Most people don't realize just how recyclable asphalt roofing shingles are.
In fact, asphalt is America's most recycled raw material, and in almost every part of the country, there are good asphalt shingle recycling programs in place.
Recycling roofing shingles may even reduce disposal costs, if the material is kept clean and is properly sorted. And for an average roof, you could be talking about saving several tons of material from the landfill.
What are old shingles used for?
Asphalt shingles are made up of the same basic raw materials as asphalt paving, plus a fiber base for structure. So, depending on your state's highway regulations, they will generally be used to augment commercial or municipal paving mix.
In fact, the high-quality asphalt, fine granules, and fibers of shingles can even improve the properties of roads, by increasing rut resistance.
What about nails?
Powerful two-stage magnets at the shingle-grinding facility pull out nails, and they get recycled as well.
Generally, just separating out the wood, flashing, and other waste from the torn-off roofing shingles is all that's required.
In most cases, the recycling yard or transfer station will accept other jobsite waste materials for recycling as well, as long as they are separated from the shingles in the load.
At one time, some shingles and mastic (joint sealer or patching compound) contained a small amount of asbestos fiber.
- This is managed in the recycling process by excluding very old (generally pre-1970s) shingles and large amounts of built-up mastic or patching compound.
- This means that your landfill or recycling center may not accept roofing from multiple-layer tear-offs, which are more likely to have old shingles.
- If in doubt, testing is possible and can generally be done by your shingle recycling yard. Also, unless specially tested (again, the same asbestos test), in most states shingles must be from a residential dwelling of 4 units or less.
Recycling in your area
Regulations vary from state to state.
- For example, some states allow felt underlayment to be recycled with the shingles, and others ask that you separate it out.
- You can see a listing of regulations state by state at www.shinglerecycling.org.
What doesn't get recycled is your lunch wrapper! Don't put it in with the shingles. Loads must be clean, with any debris located on top for easy disposal or recycling (for example, metal flashing can generally be placed on top of the load, and will be recycled too).
Ask your contractor about shingle recycling -- you never know, your old roof could become a new road!