As you begin the process of replacing or fixing your roof, it is important to consider how you want to handle the disposal of old materials, such as your old asphalt shingles.
Until the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned the manufacturing of asbestos-containing products in 1989, most asphalt shingles contained the cancer-causing mineral. Since that ban, however, the practice of recycling asphalt shingles has grown in popularity. As more than 10 million tons of asphalt shingle waste material are created each year, many communities and their roofing contractors are looking for more eco-friendly disposal methods.
The Environmental Impact of Asphalt Shingles
With growing concern over the health of the environment, many people are now to turning to recycling plants, rather than landfills, for their old shingles. According to the EPA, in 2017, 52.1% of all municipal solid waste ended up in a landfill, which was down from 53.8% in 2012. Recycling asphalt shingles is just one of the processes by which that number has lowered over the past decade.
Due to their overall durability, recycling facilities can actually safely deconstruct old shingles for use in hot mix asphalt (HMA). Construction companies use HMA to repair old road ways and create new ones. In fact, some studies have shown that the use of the recycled shingles in creating new HMA material actually strengthens the compound.
As hot mix asphalt is the primary reuse of asphalt shingles, it’s important to note that not all state transportation departments allow construction companies to use secondhand materials when pouring new roadways.
Finding a Recycling Center
In order to recycle your old shingles, you first need to determine if your community has a facility that can process them. Luckily, there is an entire website dedicated to just that!
On http://www.shinglerecycling.org/ you can use the US map feature to look up approved shingle recycling facilities by state. While the practice of recycling roofing materials is growing in popularity, some states have more options than others.
Another resource you might consider using is www.earth911.com. Although this is a popular website for discovering recycling centers, it is not a catch-all resource. You should first look on the website dedicated specifically for shingle recycling before looking on this one.
Recycling Via Roofing Contractors
The likelihood is that once your roof is replaced or repaired, you are going to have far too many shingles to be able to recycle them all by yourself. The easiest method is to have your contractor take the waste away on completion of the job. Although this is usually a given for most contractors, when getting an initial estimate, make sure to ask.
If you’ve determined that there is a nearby facility able to process your shingles and you are working with a contractor, you should ask them about their disposal practices. The cheapest disposal method is not always the same in each state.
According to a 2014 roundtable with roofing contractors from all over the US, there still exists a wide variance in asphalt shingle recycling costs and practices across state lines. While some states have limited facilities, others charge less for recycling than they do for landfill disposal!
Your roofing specialist should be able to tell you up front what your recycling options are and if doing so would increase their contract fees at all. While recycling is typically cheaper than landfill disposal, the only way to be certain is to ask your contractor.
Other Uses of Asphalt Shingles
Asphalt shingles can be a great addition to your home’s landscaping. As they are durable enough to withstand the elements yet pliable enough to be cut using the proper tools, you can fit them to the exact shape of the path around your garden.
Some gardeners recommend using asphalt shingles underneath the mulch layer to prevent weeds from sprouting. Be careful where you place the shingles, however, because you don’t want to stifle your plants’ growth, as well.
Another popular use for shingles is for outdoor mats, whether that is on the front porch or in the garage. Asphalt shingles have that rough sandpaper texture which provides excellent traction—especially in the winter time.
If your shingles were made before 1989 when the EPA’s asbestos ban went into effect, you should dispose of them as quickly and safely as possible, as they are carcinogenic.
While some people use their discarded asphalt shingles in craft projects, it’s important to recognize that the roofing material does let off toxic fumes when exposed to heat, so avoid doing so when working with them.