A Guide to Asphalt Shingle Recycling

Oct 13, 2023

WRITTEN BY:

Moises V.

CATEGORY:

Uncategorized

POSTED ON:

October 13, 2023

UPDATED ON:

December 13, 2023

Got Questions?

Millions of tons of worn-out asphalt shingles end up in landfills each year, causing environmental pollution and accelerating climate change. 

But did you know that you can recycle your asphalt shingles?

Shingle recycling has many benefits for you and the environment, from saving money on a new roof to conserving natural resources. Roofing contractors like Viking Contractors can guide you on how to properly recycle your asphalt shingles.

This post will teach you everything you need to know about recycling asphalt shingles, so stick around. 

 

Can Asphalt Shingles Be Recycled?

Yes, you can recycle your asphalt shingles and keep waste materials out of landfills. In fact, asphalt is one of the most recycled construction materials in the United States, with asphalt pavements reclaimed at a 99% rate. 

 

Benefits of Asphalt Shingle Recycling

Stack of construction refuse paper and roofing shingles on a pallet in the dirt

Transforming waste shingles from a worn-out roof into new products has many economic and environmental benefits. Check out some of them:

Reduces Waste in Landfills

Asphalt shingles waste ends up in landfills, producing greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change and air pollution. So, recycling the shingles reduces waste and conserves the space in landfills, making it an eco-friendly option for asphalt roofing manufacturers.

Preserves Natural Resources

Asphalt shingles are made from asphalt, a petroleum product, and aggregate, a mixture of sand, gravel, and crushed stone. Mining and processing these raw materials requires a lot of energy and resources like oil and water. Recycling asphalt shingles reduces the need to mine and process new raw materials, conserving water, oil, and aggregate.

Saves Energy

Producing asphalt shingles from scratch is an energy-intensive process. The binder has to be heated to extremely high temperatures, and the aggregate dried and mixed using natural gas and electricity. 

When you recycle asphalt, the material is ground into a fine powder and mixed with a new binder to produce new shingles. The process requires less energy than producing from scratch. 

Creates Jobs

The asphalt shingle recycling industry creates thousands of jobs, such as collecting, processing, and manufacturing vacancies. Drivers pick up shingles from construction sites, transporting them to recycling facilities, while workers in processing plants handle the recycling. 

Here are some more examples of jobs created in the asphalt shingle recycling industry:

  • Engineers and scientists
  • Marketing and advertising professionals
  • Customer service representatives
  • Sales representatives

 

What Is the Process of Recycling Asphalt Roofing Shingles?

truck unloads fresh asphalt into the spreader on big road in the city

The asphalt shingle recycling process is becoming more efficient and cost-effective with specialized machinery and expertise. 

Here are the steps involved:

1. Grinding

Once sorted, contractors grind the shingles into smaller particles of 0.25 – 2.0 inches, depending on their intended use after recycling. Grinding is easier in the winter because the cold makes asphalt more brittle, breaking it down quickly. 

The heat in the summer or from the equipment melts and sticks the material together, making it difficult to grind. To counter this, roofers spray water or blend asphalt with sand or gravel.

2. Sizing

Grinding machines make different asphalt sizes. Primary grinders produce large pieces for the lower level of asphalt pavement, while secondary grinders produce smaller, finer particles for the top pavement layer.

3. Grading

Contractors sieve the ground material to conform to grading requirements for recycled asphalt shingles. They use a mesh screen to separate the pieces into different sizes, depending on their intended use. 

4. Contaminants

Asphalt roofing contractors collect old shingles from roof tear-offs with contaminants that compromise the material’s quality. So, they have to remove these foreign substances before producing new products to meet quality standards. Some of these contaminants include:

  • Metal: Pieces of nails and metal flashing are extracted by a rotating magnet. 
  • Wood: Pieces of plywood are extracted by hand or floated off in a water floatation unit. 

 

What Can You Make From Recycled Asphalt Roofing Shingles?

worker pushing bitumen in the hole. road repair and maintenance

Recycling plants can make different products from scrap asphalt shingles, including:

  • New Asphalt Shingles: Manufacturers can grind recycled shingles and add them to new ones as a filler material, reducing the amount of virgin asphalt needed. 
  • Hot-Mix Asphalt (HMA) Additive: It’s an asphalt pavement made by combining heated asphalt binder with crushed rock and sand. Recycled asphalt shingles can replace virgin aggregate, reducing the impact of road construction projects.
  • Fuel: With scrap asphalt, manufacturers can produce syngas or diesel fuel. It’s a complex process that reduces the amount of waste in landfills. 
  • Cold Patch for Pothole Repair: Engineers use cold patches to repair potholes without heating the material. Recycled shingles make durable cold patch mixes that are better than traditional ones. 
  • Aggregate Road Base: It’s a layer of crushed rock and sand placed under asphalt pavement to offer support and good drainage. Recycled asphalt is the main ingredient for aggregate road base, reducing the cost of road construction and environmental impact. 
  • Temporary Roads, Driveways, and Parking Lots: Asphalt shingle recycling is a cost-effective and sustainable way to create access to construction sites and temporary parking for events and festivals.
  • Dust and Erosion Control on Rural Roads: Since rural roads are murram, they give off a lot of dust. Recycled asphalt roofing shingles used on these paths control erosion and improve air quality. 

 

Conclusion

Recycling your asphalt shingles is a great way to save money and the planet. And since asphalt is one of the most recycled materials worldwide, you’ll quickly find roofing contractors and shingle recycling programs to help you make a difference today.

If you want to replace your asphalt roof, contact us today to get started. We’ll give you a free roof inspection to help you discover the best way to recycle your old roofing material.

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