“We are not just manufacturing roofing materials; we’re saving the environment as well.”

Johns Manville’s Roofing Systems plant in Illinois is where rock meets paper.  
At Rockdale, 36 Johns Manville employees are on pace to produce 44 million board feet of FESCO perlite roof insulation board this year – with the help of a lot of recycled paper. 

Seriously. A lot of paper.  

On any given day, the plant uses around 66,000 pounds of recycled paper to produce FESCO, a roofing insulation board relied upon by Johns Manville customers due to its superior fire resistance, high compression strength and excellent water resistance, among other attributes, says Don White, Plant Manager. Last July, Rockdale used 6,485 pounds of paper an hour. 

“People have been saying this product is going away, but I want it to be relevant,” said White. “It’s important people know the longevity of this product. It’s been around for 70 years and that means it’s important to somebody. I want to keep giving FESCO life every day. That’s what keeps me going.” 

That means looking for additional supply streams for recycled paper, he added, maybe even from other Johns Manville locations.  

In doing so, “We can help them be green by introducing (their wastepaper products) into our process,” White added, noting that finding a supply stream from within JM could prove a cost savings as well. 

Over the past 12 months, Rockdale spent $2.2 million on recycled paper that comprises about half of the FESCO roofing board components. The remainder is a mix of alum, perlite and hot asphalt. Any portions of board left over after it is cut into 2x4, 4x4 or 4x8 pieces are reintroduced back into the manufacturing process. 

“That means landfills aren’t being filled in a rapid way,” he said. He also pointed out that Rockdale is a “closed-loop” plant, meaning no wastewater is discharged from the plant; it’s introduced into the manufacturing process instead. 

White encourages leaders at other manufacturing plants to review their processes with a keen eye for being green, noting that he is proud of the environmentally friendly steps being made at his plant. 

“We are not just manufacturing roofing materials; we’re saving the environment as well,” he said.