Got Old Shingles? Recycle Them!
- Author C. Michael Hunter
- Published December 9, 2011
- Word count 579
According to roofers, asphalt shingles cover two-thirds of American roofs. The material has an average lifespan of 30 to 40 years. With so much of it currently in use and even more nearing the end of its service life, there has to be a better and more efficient way to deal with its scraps. An efficient and environmentally friendly way of dealing with used shingles can be chosen - recycling.
Once an asphalt shingle’s serviceable life is nearing an end, it becomes brittle and starts to curl due to repeated exposure to the sun’s UV rays. The constant exposure to the sun’s rays will eventually make each tile susceptible to breakage even from the slightest blowing wind. When the condition of the material gets to that point, the next most sensible step is to replace it before extensive damage occurs that could leave the underlying material susceptible to the elements.
Recycling is a sensible way of handling used asphalt shingles. In the United States alone, about ten million tons of this material is removed from roofs annually and the material from a single home is enough to pave at least 200 feet of a two-way road!
Typically, once shingles are removed, they are typically thrown away and eventually end up in an ever-increasing pile at a landfill; however, this material can be recycled and thus reduce the amount of waste generated by a renovation.
Asphalt shingles are generally made up of asphalt, which is a byproduct of fossil fuel; it is the same material used for paving roads and covering potholes. Since shingles are derived from the same material used for paving roads, it only makes sense that the material be reused for the same purpose.
The recycling process starts by choosing a contractor who used such a program. Not all contractors practice this method yet; however, there are a considerable number beginning to implement recycle programs.
Once the shingles have been removed from the roof, they can be transported to a recycling facility to be cleaned to remove any metal and wood. From there, they are then crushed and a strong magnet passed over the rubble to remove any traces of metal that may still be present. The crushed shingles are then brought to a plant where they are mixed with virgin asphalt to be used on pavement.
Following are some of the benefits of utilizing a recycle program for asphalt shingles.
Cost Effective – Recycling is a very cost-effective option, much better than simply disposing of the shingles in a landfill. Because petroleum products are at an all-time high, facilities that recycle this material benefit by using less virgin asphalt and substituting it with this more inexpensive form of asphalt.
Environmentally Friendly – Because asphalt is a form of fossil fuel, it takes a significant amount of time before the material breaks down. Shingles dumped directly into landfills only accumulate and will likely cause soil pollution in the long run. Recycling greatly reduces the amount of waste thrown into landfills and reduces the negative impact it has on the environment.
Today, replacing roofs can be done in an environmentally friendly way thanks to the recycling options offered by a growing number of contractors. Once an asphalt roof is near the end of its service life, replacement by a roofer who knows how to properly handle the material should be considered. Hopefully, this article has provided helpful information regarding the trend of asphalt recycling and its benefits!
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