Asphalt shingles are a great roofing material. They come in many colors and styles, are easy to install, and can last over twenty years. No wonder they’re so popular.
However, replacing an asphalt shingle roof comes with some costs. It costs money, time, and labor. There’s another cost we don’t often think about, which we all pay. Whenever an asphalt shingle roof is replaced, the environment is impacted as discarded materials are thrown in a landfill.
Our Roofs in Our Landfills
Every year, over ten million tons of shingles wind up slowly rotting in our nation’s landfills. Most of this waste comes from asphalt shingles used in installation and re-roofing projects. Depending on the weight of the shingle, an average sized home (2600 square feet) can add over three tons of waste to a landfill. Some studies show shingles alone account for ten percent of all construction waste.
Asphalt shingles are constructed from organic materials, so they do decompose over time. While bio-degradation, in general, is a good thing, the process for shingles takes hundreds of years and releases toxins harmful to our environment.
What if those shingles didn’t have to go into a landfill? What if they could serve another purpose after they’ve kept your home and property safe for so many years?
Believe It Or Not, Roofs Can Be Recycled
When we think about recycling we usually consider plastic bottles and aluminum cans, not material from our house. The asphalt used to make your shingles can do more than just degrade in a landfill, costing your city or county money. Most commonly, recyclers use asphalt shingles to produce a variety of materials for patching or laying new roads. If you’ve driven on any paved or patched roads you’ve already benefited from a recycled roof.
Benefits to Recycling Asphalt Shingles
Not only does recycling shingles keep them out of landfills, but it also replaces petroleum products which would otherwise be used in the road repair/construction business. According to the Construction and Demolition Recycling Association, over one hundred million dollars are saved each year by the use of asphalt recycled from shingles.
In addition, for every ton of shingles recycled, we save a barrel of oil. Remember, oil isn’t just used to make fuel. It’s used to make everything from polyester shirts to cellphones. So reducing the demand on oil for road projects, by even just a little bit, reduces the cost to so many other aspects of our lives. Recycling doesn’t just keep petroleum costs down; it also reduces harmful effects on the environment.
What It Costs You to Recycle
One of the best things about recycling asphalt shingles for the homeowner is there’s not much for you to worry about. The process of installing a new roof and removing the old one are practically the same. In some states, you will actually be required to have your asphalt shingles recycled. Throughout Florida, counties are adopting regulations to encourage shingle recycling. In many cases, recycling your asphalt shingles will end up being cheaper for you than when your roofer was dumping it in a landfill.
One Way to Ensure Your Roof Gets Recycled
One way to make sure your roof, old or new, is sourced, installed, and removed responsibly is to look for a recycling-committed contractor. Owens Corning, a Fortune 500 company specializing in roofing materials, recognizes such contractors with their Preferred Contractor Shingle Recycling Pledge. These contractors have committed not just to the end-of-life stage of your old roof, but also to the use of materials and building practices which promote a healthy environment.
Doing Your Part
We replace roofs to protect our homes and our property. When we recycle our roofs, we get the opportunity to also protect our community. Less oil is used, landfills are not as full, air is a bit cleaner, roads are a bit smoother, and we sustain local recycling jobs.
If you have an asphalt shingle roof which needs to be replaced and you don’t want it to wind up in a landfill, look for a contractor committed to recycling. Mark Kaufman Roofing has taken the Preferred Contractor Shingle Recycling Pledge, and we can answer any of your questions about replacing and recycling your roof. To learn more, please contact us.