Vermont man earns EPA recognition for C&D end market development
While recycling some construction and demolition (C&D) material is straightforward, other materials, like asphalt shingles, pose major challenges in finding end markets.
In a rural state with just one shingle recycler, James “Buzz” Surwilo is tackling the challenge in an initiative that has earned him recent recognition from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA awarded Surwilo with an individual Merit Award for his work as an environmental analyst with the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). He was among 25 recipients across New England honored at the 2019 Environmental Merit Awards ceremony Sept. 10.
As part of his role with the DEC, Surwillo reviews Vermont’s Act 250 plans, which require construction projects to have a waste management plan, and offers suggestions for improving them.
While his work involves all types of C&D material, Surwilo has been working with the DEC on boosting recycling rates for asphalt shingles since the late 1990s.
Vermont produces about 25,000 tons of waste shingles per year, according to the EPA. The state has just one shingle recycler—Myers Container Service of Winooski—that processes about 2,500 tons of shingles annually.
Surwilo works closely with Myers in keeping the quality of the recycled asphalt shingles (RAS) up to standard. While the state’s department of transportation is “not enthusiastic” about using RAS in hot mix asphalt, Surwilo says, he worked with the agency to begin using RAS in shoulder paving and dirt road maintenance projects.
Because RAS has few uses beyond road applications, Surwilo says, a current focus of his is working with the Department of Transportation to expand its use. A law passed in Vermont in 2015 mandating greater C&D recycling has spurred a DEC pilot program that Surwilo hopes will open more doors for RAS use in the state. Last fall, the DEC began funding road pavement projects that used RAS in an unbound aggregates mix.
“We’re using money to try this material out and hoping it will be successful,” Surwilo says. “If it enhances the performance of these roads, which we’re hoping for, then we can trumpet this as a material [the department of transportation] might want to look at.”The DEC has so far funded projects in two towns, giving them $2,000 each for the RAS and trucking costs. The grant recipients are responsible for providing the gravel and installing the mix, which is 80 percent gravel and 20 percent RAS.