Can asphalt roof shingles be recycled?

Can asphalt roof shingles be recycled?

—Kate Prendergast, Warwick, NY

Asphalt shingles are the most common type of roofing material used for residential homes today. In fact, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) estimates that up to 60 percent of dwellings use them. Each year, the re-roofing of homes in the U.S. generates about 11 million tons of waste shingles—at a cost of more than $400 million in disposal fees alone. Meanwhile, more than 60 manufacturing plants generate up to one million tons of new material every year.

This enormous glut has led to the relatively new practice of shingle recycling. Asphalt roofing shingles have great recycling potential because they are easy to isolate. Shingles are then ground into small pieces, and can then be reused in a variety of ways. Currently, almost all recycled asphalt shingles are used in paving, because of the costs savings they can yield. But they can also be used for new roofing and for fuel oil, according to the California Integrated Waste Management Board.

The Construction Materials Recycling Association has joined with the University of Florida, the National Roofing Contractors Association and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on shinglerecycling.org, a website that answers questions about how and where to recycle asphalt roof shingles. Along with a wealth of other resources, the site offers a state-by-state listing of environmental and permitting issues related to asphalt shingle recycling, including how to deal with potential asbestos content.

According to the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturing Association, asphalt shingle recycling facilities are available in at least 15 states, including Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington.

For more information, NAHB publishes an informative booklet entitled From Roofs to Roads: Recycling Asphalt Roof Shingles into Paving Materials. Written primarily for waste generators, processors and regulators, the booklet details potential end uses for recycled shingles, summarizes the issues that recyclers face, and lists resources and equipment manufacturers, including for equipment that enables demolition companies to shred and prepare shingles for recycling themselves.

CONTACTS: California Integrated Waste Management Board, www.ciwmb.ca.gov ; National Association of Home Builders, www.nahbrc.org ; shinglerecycling.org www.shinglerecycling.org ; Asphalt Roofing Manufacturing Association, www.asphaltroofing.org .