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Can Asphalt Shingles Be Environmentally Friendly?

Environmentally friendly is often not the first phrase that comes to mind when thinking about asphalt shingle roofing. Asphalt is a byproduct of crude oil refining and thus not the most sustainable or earth-conscious roofing material.

However, if you plan on replacing your asphalt shingle roofing system, you don’t have to worry about the old shingles ending up in a landfill. That is because, thanks to technological advances, asphalt shingles are now recyclable.

An estimated 11 million tons of asphalt shingle waste is produced in the United States every year. According to estimates by US Environmental Protection Agency data, ten million pounds are from homeowners due to asphalt roofing tear-offs, and one pound per thousand square feet comes from manufacturing plants.

When recycling asphalt shingles, it is usually easier and cheaper to recycle the manufacturer’s waste. This is because this asphalt is a little cleaner and hasn’t been mixed with fiberglass, felt paper, cotton, etc. However, just because it’s easier doesn’t mean that it’s impossible or that there isn’t a market for it.

According to Todd Genovese of Lafarge North America, even “clean” shingles aren’t always cleaned and often have to go through a cleaning process, much like the shingles that have been torn off residential homes. He mentions that being quite a distance from a shingle manufacturer is a contributing factor in using residential asphalt tear-offs.

Recycled asphalt shingles are a popular material used to build roads, pavements, and other roofing materials. In the US alone, recycling these products has increased as more states use them for their roadworks or networking needs. Businesses involved in developing parking lots and driveways are increasingly dependent on recycled asphalt for developments across the country.

In Minnesota, the local government has opted to use recycled asphalt shingles for hiking and biking trails. And in Georgia, the local government has declared that asphalt from manufacturing waste makes up 5% of the total road and paving mixtures.

Making use of recycled asphalt shingles has saved industries like road and transportation and the building industry significantly. Their costs have been reduced as well as their carbon output. Asphalt shingles may have a slightly bad rap for being a little less eco-friendly than other roofing materials, but at least now, you can rest assured that your residential tear-off is being put to good use.

Are you considering replacing your asphalt shingle roof and want to know how to dispose of your tear-off shingles safely? Give Whalen Exteriors a call today, and we’ll assist you with all your roofing needs.

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