Worth the Effort

Features - Concrete & Asphalt Recycling

Persistence (with a boost from high oil prices) has helped asphalt shingles go from landfill fodder to a recyclable material.

November 22, 2011
Brian Taylor

The journey asphalt shingles have been taking from a waste product to a commonly recycled material has a lot in common with the path followed by other secondary commodities.

Credit for the progress in the shingle recycling market in the past two decades can be shared by advocates and pioneers who stayed committed, as well as by market-based circumstances which have helped the cause.

The Construction Materials Recycling Association (CMRA) has provided an information clearinghouse for advocates and champions of shingle recycling on its www.shinglerecycling.org website.

Several equipment manufacturing companies also have provided technical support and helped share information to boost the prospects of recycling asphalt shingles.

And finally, as oil has rocketed upward in price in the past 10 years, so has the price of the liquid asphalt binder that goes into bituminous paving materials (also commonly known as asphalt). This has helped to provide an incentive to paving contractors to use scrap shingles (and the residual oil contained within) as a paving mixture ingredient.

Hoosier State Innovation Targets Tear-off Shingles

RecycleGuy Inc., (RG), Tipton, Ind., says it has been able to expand its ability to collect and process asphalt shingle scrap thanks in part to an innovative container it helped design. The company's owner, Suzy Edwards says a compartment container it distributes for use "was specially built for RG per our specs the more we decided we could further modify it."

RG's roofing contractor customers "loved it, especially when we switched the signs and put their names on as the main billboard; it really looks professional at the job site," says Edwards.

Edwards says RG uses its specially-built containers as part of a process to collect tear-off shingles in the central Indiana region in which it operates. The same truck can deliver the recycling container with the new shingles to be used stored within the sealed front-half compartment. The new shingles can be locked up and even heated in cold weather making roofing in cold months possible.

Once the roofing crew does arrive, the container is already placed and the back half is ready to collect the tear-off material. Edwards says that when a roofing job is complete, RG returns with hooklift truck and picks up the three to six tons of scrap shingles that have been pre-sorted by the contractor.

As stated by Dale S. Decker in a feature story in the July/August 2002 of this magazine, "The use of waste asphalt shingles in hot-mix asphalt is truly a 'win-win' scenario. The consumer wins with lower construction and a rehabilitation cost without compromising quality [and] the public wins by reduced volume of construction rubble in landfills and reduced use of petroleum products."

Decker, who at that time was an engineer based in Columbia, Md., had recently completed a study on the topic for the National Asphalt Pavement Association.

His study provided some processing and mixing guidelines or best practices for what at that time was a recycling application still early in its evolution.

Two years later, two different Construction & Demolition Recycling magazine cover stories featured companies who were recycling asphalt shingles.

The January/February 2004 edition featured a cover story on Dykes Paving, Norcross, Ga. The long-time concrete and asphalt pavement recycling company was at that time creating a paving material blend that "uses roughly 70 percent recycled asphalt pavement (RAP) combined with about 28 percent processed shingle scrap, along with about 2 percent diesel fuel.

"The resulting product is a flexible, highly durable pavement ideal for industrial driveways and truck lots," the article states.

In the July/August 2004 edition of Construction & Demolition Recycling magazine, a feature article on Recycling & Processing Equipment Inc. (RPEI), Peru, Ind., described that company's aggressive attitude toward niche markets, including asphalt shingle processing and recycling.

RPEI began grinding asphalt shingles in 1996, and as of 2004 the company's Mark Bowyer stated, "We want to pursue shingle grinding more. We think there is a business opportunity there."

Much like Dykes Paving, RPEI already was working with paving contractors to increase the percentage of shingles that could be used in a paving mixture. In the article, RPEI General Manager Gary Davis identified 5 percent shingle scrap as "the usual specification for asphalt shingles used in hot mix."

The Clearinghouse
The CMRA has encouraged its members to consider shingle recycling in two prominent ways: the creation of the ShingleRecycling.org website in 2004, and by hosting an annual Asphalt Shingle Recycling Forum each fall.

The most recent forum, held in Dallas in late October 2011, was sub-titled "A New Era in Asphalt Shingle Recycling/Tear-Off Recycling Comes of Age."

Through its website and Shingle Recycling Forum efforts, the CMRA has helped link up recyclers, paving contractors and manufacturers of asphalt shingles such as Owens Corning, GAF and the trade group the Asphalt Shingle Manufacturers Association. GAF Materials Corp., Wayne, N.J., has stepped up to sponsor a shingle recycling processor locator map on the ShingleRecycling.org website.

The list of recyclers appearing along with this article has been accumulated from a variety of sources, including the Construction & Demolition Recycling magazine subscriber database, the www.CDRecycler.com news archives, the www.ShingleRecycling.org website, www.Earth911.com and responses solicited from our subscribers and website viewers.

As the list demonstrates, shingle recyclers have been identified in more than half of U.S. states, with Texas, Missouri and Indiana offering some of the most robust asphalt shingle recycling activity.


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

Did We Miss You?

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. Contact Associate Editor Kristin Smith at 330-523-5361 or via e-mail at ksmith@gie.net, and we will let our readers know in an upcoming issue.