You’ve upgraded your roof to a high-quality metal roof, but now you’re left with another problem. How to recycle roofing shingles. Maybe you didn’t know this was an option or you curious as to how recycling shingles benefits the environment, but once your shingles are no longer fit your use on your home, they can still be valuable in many forms for different uses.

The good news is that as asphalt shingles are a really common roofing material, they can be recycled. 

Roofing waste is responsible for around 11 million tonnes of waste each year in the US. This amounts to around 8 percent of the entire yearly construction and demolition-related garbage that is generated in the United States each year. Of these 11 tonnes, asphalt shingles make up just under 9 million tonnes. 

Asphalt shingles, if not recycled, can take up to 300 years to degrade entirely. This, coupled with the staggering volume of shingles discarded each year, poses a significant environmental concern. 

By recycling shingles, you can actively reduce your carbon footprint and prevent roofing materials from contributing to landfill waste. Your actions can make a significant difference. 

What Are Asphalt Shingles and How Are They Made?

Asphalt shingles are made by coating organic materials such as paper, wood, and cellulose or fiberglass sheets with asphalt, sand, ceramic, and glass granules, which are added to increase their durability. 

Organic shingles, typically made from wood or cellulose, have a lifespan of around 20 to 40 years but roofs made of these organic materials are often covered under warranties lasting from just 15 to 25 years. This means that roof replacements are required on a more frequent basis than you might imagine, considering the actual lifespan of an asphalt shingle. 

Fiberglass shingles, on the other hand, can last up to 50 years, making them more durable but ultimately a more expensive option. 

The reason asphalt roofs need replacing so frequently and seemingly much earlier than the 20 to 40 years estiamte is that when installed, the shingles can sustain damage from the environment, e.g., wind or water damage. Over time, as they age, they will be more susceptible to damage and wear and tear, making them less efficient. 

The more frequently the shingles are replaced, either individually or for a completely new roof, the more waste is generated, and if the shingles aren’t disposed of correctly or recycled, this is where the problem lies. And with so much waste in landfills and the sheer amount of time it takes for asphalt shingles to fully break down, it’s imperative to discard shingles and redirect them as much as possible so they can be reused and not just added to the US’s waste problem.

What Is Shingle Recycling?

Shingle recycling is the process of breaking down discarded shingles and reusing them for other purposes. Much like you put any plastic bottles or paper, for example, you use into recycling waste containers for them to be reused and repurposed, the process to recycle shingles works on the same principle.

Asphalt is a viscous petroleum-based material that is excellent for protecting homes hence why its used for roofing. However, these excellent roofing benefits are also the reason why asphalt in landfills is such a problem. As a nonrenewable resource, it means that once old shingles are discarded, they need to be remade, which in turn restarts the cycle with the newly generated shingles following the same process to be made and then end-of-life problem once they are no longer fit for use.

A typical recycling of asphalt shingles requires every single piece to be ground down into 0.25 to 2.00-inch pieces, depending on the reason they’re being recycled; different uses require different methods. In general, most recycled asphalt shingles are used for road repairs, to fix potholes, or to recover roads, which in turn not only helps reduce the number of shingles going to landfills but also reduces the burden of cost on the taxpayer.

In this case, the roofing materials are sorted to extract non-asphalt materials; remember that asphalt is mixed with other materials for added durability. Once this has been done, the shingles are ground into smaller pieces as per local state regulations using asphalt shingle grinders designed for this exact purpose.

The shingles are then repurposed into an additive for hot mix asphalt or cold mix for use on road surfaces.

Benefits of Recycling Shingles

There are many benefits of recycling shingles that are no longer of use as roofing materials. As mentioned, asphalt shingles are a viscous, nonrenewable resource, so recycling them can help extend their usable life and prolong the period it takes to add them to waste. 

Recycling shingles means that you are contributing to reduced waste in landfills, and you’re providing a more eco-friendly option when considering the use and end-of-life properties of the material you no longer have any use for.

Recycled materials often come at a lower cost than brand-new alternatives. This means that the product your shingles are recycled into could be more cost-effective, providing a financial incentive for recycling.

On top of these two excellent benefits above, recycling asphalt shingles creates job opportunities. Companies that are set up to receive and recycle used shingles will be providing employment in their local area thanks to delivering this service as well as supporting other businesses that make and supply the equipment they need to recycle the shingles.

How To Recycle Shingles

In the first instance, you can ask your roofing contractor if they participate in any schemes to recycle your shingles. They might offer this service in-house or point you in the direction of a company that can provide it. This isn’t something that is offered as standard, so knowing if it’s an option beforehand can allow you to make the necessary inquiries in your local state if your roofing partner doesn’t offer this for you.

You can head to Earth911 and put in your zip code to see if shingle recycling is offered in your area. You can also find resources and companies that can help you recycle your old roofing materials.

Alternatively, you can talk to local refuse or skip companies to see if they work with shingle recycling companies or if they can provide you with a way to dispose of your shingles via their service directly to companies who do this type of work.

What Are Recycled Shingles Used For?

Recycled shingles are typically used for road repairs, and the shingles from an average sized house, can cover a two-lane highway for about 200 feet. The shingles are ground down and used in hot mix asphalt. Smaller particles are used in the surface part of the paving, while larger particles are used for the base stabilization, which is the layer underneath the top surface. All aspects of the asphalt from shingles will be used to create the hot mix asphalt, so you can rest assured that all usable parts of your shingles are being put to good use rather than sitting in a landfill.

If you cannot find a company to recycle shingles, you can always look into donating the shingles to make them valuable to other people. Many charities, such as Habitat for Humanity, take donations of all kinds of materials, including shingle roofing. These resources are useful and can be used to create a fully functioning roof for a person in need. Recycled materials can reduce the cost of building new homes for people in need and are always gratefully accepted.

However, for your shingles to be considered, they need to meet some strict criteria, they need to be close to new, free from mold and algae buildup and asbestos, and be bagged up. Some organizations require the shingles to be pre-ground, but if you want to donate your old roofing material for use on projects such as this, you can contact the specific organization directly to find out their requirements and check if your donation will be accepted.

Other options for you to consider is to find a rubbish disposal service in your area that partners with recycling organisations to help you dispose of your waste correctly and ensure that all usable parts are used and not just sent to waste.

Should I Recycle Shingles?

If you’re looking at getting a new roof or having some shingles or part of your roofing replaced, then it is always worth considering recycling shingles to help reduce your carbon footprint and remove the need for them to be dumped in landfills. Asphalt shingles are still a valuable resource even when they are not being used as roofing, and they have many properties that can be of use and value in other areas for different uses.

If you want to find out more, you can contact your roofing provider to find out how they treat old shingles, what type of service they offer, and ensure that you get the most from your old roofing materials, not just contribute to the growing waste problem.

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RPS Metal Roofing & Siding, Inc is a manufacturer and distributor of metal roofs. Located in Welaka, Florida, our company has state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment resulting in fine quality metal roofs for commercial, residential and agricultural use.

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