Asphalt shingles are the most common choice in roofing for U.S. homes, and each year the construction industry produces an estimated 11 million tons of shingle waste. When lined up, it would stretch from New York to Los Angeles.
Most of the waste goes into landfills, but recycling asphalt roofing is becoming more and more prevalent. One-third of asphalt waste is currently recycled, and this number continues to rise. Unfortunately, shingle recycling is hit-or-miss, varies from state to state, and is not systematically tracked by any agency.
Asphalt shingles are made from a fiberglass or organic backing, asphalt cement and mineral fillers. These ingredients have several other potential uses, including:
Road construction. The materials listed above are also basic ingredients of the hot-mix asphalt used to build new roads, making the paving industry the number one user of reprocessed shingles.
Repairing potholes. Ground-up shingles mixed with aggregate and an emulsion can be used as a cold patch for roads. The mix can even improve performance because of the shingles’ fiberglass content.
Aggregate. Ground and screened shingles can be mixed with gravel and used to cover unpaved roads. This minimizes dust, reduces vehicle noise and gives the road a longer life. Combining ground shingles with ground asphalt and concrete can also be a good road base for driveways.
New shingles. Some manufacturers have attempted to use scraps to make new shingles, some successful and others not.
Energy recovery. Using scrap shingles as a supplement for fuel is not an uncommon practice in Europe, as the material has an energy content of as much as 20,000 Btu (British thermal units) per pound. Air emission regulations in the United States have prevented a wider use of scarp shingles as fuel, but some manufacturers have practiced this.
Showalter practices shingle recycling for environmentally-conscious Chicago-area residents who wish to recycle their roofs. Visit our site or give us a call to learn more!
Courtesy of Green Building Advisor