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Features - Concrete & Asphalt Recycling

Recyclers and some paving contractors are eager to recycle asphalt shingles, but end markets could use a boost from a healthier economy.

Brian Taylor November 11, 2013

Since Construction & Demolition Recycling last published its list of asphalt shingle recyclers in 2011, some of the listed companies have backed away from the business or, unfortunately, are no longer in business at all.

However, other companies have spent the past two years solidifying or expanding their shingle processing operations and also have watched as new competitors have arrived on the scene in their geographic regions.

Comparisons between the accompanying list of asphalt shingle recyclers and the one that was published in 2011 reveal that some of the names have changed and the total number of shingle recycling locations has fallen in two years.

Some of the rising and falling fortunes of shingle recyclers vary by state and region, and some also are tied to wider overall economic trends.

Regional Rifts

Bill Turley, executive director of the Construction and Demolition Recycling Association (CDRA), Aurora, Ill., says investments in shingle processing can still vary greatly from state to state.

“We have seen places in the country where shingle recyclers have done well but others where activity has tapered off,” says Turley, who was preparing for CDRA’s Asphalt Shingle Recycling Forum in Denver in early November 2013.

The single largest state in the U.S., California, is a long way from having the largest roster of shingle recyclers on the 2013 list. However, Turley says he believes the Golden State may soon see an increase in asphalt shingle recycling. “California is just starting to get a little more active, and the state is developing a spec [to use processed shingles in roadway applications]. I expect to see shingle processing do better there in the future,” Turley comments.

The existence of a recycled asphalt shingles (RAS) specification can help build momentum for the use of processed asphalt shingles by paving companies and the highway and streets departments who are reviewing project bids.

Click the image above to see the full list of Shingle Recyclers

While shingle recycling appears to have room to grow in California, in some other regions of the United States, processing capacity may have exceeded end-market demand.

A spokeswoman at one recycling company in Missouri that appeared on the 2011 Asphalt Shingle Recyclers list says her company no longer accepts shingles for processing. “We have a good sized stockpile and no one to sell them to,” she remarks.

“I’ve heard of places not taking more shingles in because they are full up,” agrees Turley. “It ebbs and flows.”

One of the hurdles asphalt shingle processors are facing involves competing with recycled asphalt pavement (RAP) as feedstock in asphalt hot-mix plants, Turley says.

“There are large piles of RAP around the country,” says Turley. He adds that contractors “have to get rid of that material, especially when it is generated on government projects.”

Thus, a paving contractor may remove and “mill up 100 percent of an old county roadway or state highway, but often the contractor only uses 10 to 20 percent on site,” says Turley.

Establishing specifications for RAS will remain a CDRA priority, according to Turley, who notes that the association maintains an information clearinghouse for advocates and champions of shingle recycling at its www.shinglerecycling.org website.

The website lists the following states as allowing up to 5 percent manufacturers’ scrap RAS to be used:

  • Florida;
  • Georgia;
  • Indiana;
  • Maryland;
  • Michigan;
  • New Jersey;
  • North Carolina; and
  • Pennsylvania.

Also, Ohio Department of Transportation (DOT) specifications allow for up to a “certain percentage of recycled material.” As well, Turley says the CDRA is promoting the use of RAS in highway base courses to expand the end market for processed shingles.


Nailing It
In most of the states where RAS has gained approval, state DOTs and paving contractors alike are more willing to use manufacturers’ shingle scrap rather than tear-off shingles. The primary fear with tear-off shingles continues to be the existence of roofing nails in the tear-off stream.

A Central Location

For nearly a decade, the Construction & Demolition Recycling Association (CDRA) has maintained the www.shinglerecycling.org website as a resource for those wanting to know more about the state of the recycled asphalt shingles (RAS) sector.

The website also includes a database of shingle recyclers and processors (searchable by state) as well as information on state department of transportation contacts and links to applicable research reports.

The website’s Environmental Regulations section also offers links to state regulatory contacts as well as a case study of how Commercial Recycling Systems of Scarborough, Maine, worked with state agencies to promote asphalt shingle recycling.

Summaries of research projects in two states, Minnesota and Missouri, also are hosted on the site. Each of these studies considered the viability of using tear-off shingles in recycling applications.

The CDRA’s Turley says responsible scrap shingle processors can overcome this perceived quality problem with one essential step. “That’s why God made magnets,” he quips regarding the removal of nails from the tear-off shingle stream.

“The good recyclers have learned how to clean up their material to the point where it meets the specification,” Turley continues. “We really don’t see a problem with nail contamination.”

More so than the processing limitations, Turley and the CDRA are concerned about “sham recyclers” who charge a tipping fee to collect asphalt shingles for recycling but then either fail to process the materials or begin to process them but never cultivate end markets. In either case, the full recycling loop is never closed, and an environmental hazard is created in the form of a stockpile.

One recent example of this occurred near Knoxville, Tenn., where in 2011 a company called Greenphalt Recycling set up shop to accept scrapped shingles.

According to the website of Knoxville TV station WBIR, www.wbir.com, the owners of that company “skipped town with thousands of dollars in [tip] fees and left a big mess behind.”

Subsequently, the city of Knoxville has contracted with Mark Hinton, owner of River Road Shingle Recycling, Louisville, Ky., to send in a crew to process the stockpile and market the resulting materials.

Hinton estimated some 28,000 cubic yards of shingles were abandoned at the site; but, according to WBIR, he has committed to grind through the entire amount and clear the site by the end of 2013. “By the end of this year, the site will be level and clear as if nothing was here,” he told the TV station.

Once the stockpile is clear, Hinton says he plans to maintain a presence in the Knoxville market as Knoxville Shingle Recycling, thus providing one of the new company names appearing on the 2013 version of the Asphalt Shingle Recyclers list.


The author is editor of Construction & Demolition Recycling and can be contacted at btaylor@gie.net. Managing Editor Kristin Smith also helped assemble and verify information for the list.



Is our list incomplete?
If you work for or know of a company that processes asphalt shingles for recycling that is not on this list, please let us know. We will make sure to let our readers know about your company through an update printed in an upcoming issue. Please contact Editor Brian Taylor at btaylor@gie.net to let us know about our oversight.

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