If you say that asphalt shingles are the most commonly used shingles in the US today, you are definitely correct. The fact is that asphalt shingles are used in 80% of shingle roofing in the US. Until recently, the most common advice on disposing used asphalt shingles was to dispose of them in a landfill. Many asphalt shingle recycling centers have been opening in recent years in most major cities in the US. What happens to the old shingles after you remove them from your roof top and why play recycling centers such an important role?

Why do we recycle asphalt Shingles?

About two tons of asphalt shingles are removed from each residential roof. This depends on the size of the roof and weather it has one or two layers. It totally adds up to an estimated ten million tons of used shingles each year. You should add one million tons of scrap asphalt generated during the manufacturing process. Keep in mind that it takes almost 300 years for the shingles to break down. Some US states have passed legislations banning disposal of these shingles in landfills.

In fact asphalt shingles don’t decompose. Burning them is also not the answer because these shingles are manufactured from petroleum and burning them produces hazardous gasses, dangerous to human health. On the contrary, recycling the removed asphalt shingles will reduce our dependence on expensive nonrenewable resources, namely oil.

Recycling method

Construction trash bins are set up near the houses that have old asphalt shingles. All the torn off shingles are slide down into the bin. The non-asphalt items are sorted out by the contractor on site or in the recycling facility. Nails are removed at the facility using strong rotating magnets and wood items are separated by means of flotation. The cost for this separation at the facility is normally less than the cost of dumping the material in a landfill. Other processes like grinding and sieving are applied on the shingles based on the intended purpose.

The recycling facility will grind the shingles into pieces ranging from 1/4″ to 3″, depending on the intended final product. In some cases, a sieving process is required to separate the pieces into various sizes. The old asphalt shingles end up in a variety of places and products.

The shingles eventual destiny

Most shingles will end up in roads, either as paving material, aggregate base or sub-base. They can also be used as patching material on roads, bridges, ramps, sidewalks and parking lots. Private roads, driveways and paths in residential areas are also suitable locations for these materials. New asphalt shingles are also produced from the old roof “tear-off”. Fuel oil is also produced during the recycling process. If the old shingles are ground-up, they are used in controlling dust and erosion on unpaved roads and at construction sites.