The EPA estimates that 11 millions tons of asphalt shingle waste are generated each year in the United States. The majority of the waste is from old roof tear-offs, which are then replaced with new asphalt shingles. This generates an incredible amount of waste potentially headed to landfills; however, recycling the asphalt content of the shingles greatly reduces this waste and provides a cheaper source of asphalt for shingle and hot mix asphalt (HMA) manufacturers. United Companies is one of many paving companies using recycled asphalt content in their hot mix pavement; check their site for an article about a recent paving project in Mesa County, Colorado that used HMA containing both recycled asphalt shingle and recycled asphalt pavement content.
Tips for Replacing Your Roof:
If you have existing asphalt shingles or plan on getting a new asphalt shingle roof, be sure your contractor recycles the old asphalt shingles and any waste from the new roof. GAF Roofing Systems has a search tool to help locate qualified installers that have made a commitment to green roofing practices (just look for the Certified Green Roofer certification).
If you plan to replace your own roof, remember to purchase only what you need. Here’s a handy calculator that helps you determine the amount of roofing product to purchase.
Use shinglerecycling.org’s recycling location finder to find out where to take your old shingles. Some companies even pick up asphalt shingle waste from your home or job site as long as it is separated from other waste.
Recycling asphalt shingles keeps waste out of landfills and reduces the industry’s dependence on ever-more expensive foreign oil. Recycled asphalt content, when added to hot mix pavement, actually improves the quality of the pavement. The improved quality comes from the presence of fiberglass and cellulose fibers (used as backing material for shingles), and results in a more durable, rut- and crack-resistant finished product.
Other uses for recycled asphalt shingles include aggregate for roadbeds, cold patch for potholes in pavement, new asphalt shingles, and dust control on rural roads. For a more in-depth explanation of the recycling process and more information about the use of recycled asphalt shingles, check shinglerecycling.org.