Have you ever wondered what happens to your old roofing material when it’s removed from your home? For years, old shingles and roofing material has ended up buried in landfills. Why is this bad? For starters, landfills are overflowing with waste. This waste increases air and water pollution and greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. It also takes more energy to build new products with raw materials than with recycled materials. And disposing of old roofing materials, shingles and other construction debris is a waste of our precious resources; why throw away something that can be transformed into something new? For all of these reasons, initiatives are being taken in the construction industry to recycle waste material from home improvement work, such as shingles and other roofing material. Waste reduction is an important component in “sustainable building”, or “green building”, programs. According to Owens Corning, the world’s largest manufacturer of building materials and a leading proponent of energy efficiency and eco-friendly initiatives, “Recycling your roof is like recycling more than 100% of a year’s worth of household waste.”
What happens to your old roofing material and shingles after they’ve been recycled? Asphalt shingles get recycled as asphalt paving, pothole filler, and new shingles. One roof can become about 300 feet of highway! Metal waste, such as nails and flashing, also gets recycled and reprocessed into new materials such as cans and street signs. And wood waste can be recycled as mulch, animal bedding, and other products. Every year millions of tons of shingles are torn off roofs, which can be used to create a lot of new roads and other products.
Although recycling programs and resources are steadily increasing, not all contractors recycle. Roof recycling involves some extra steps in the cleanup process, the most important of which is “source separation” (separating of different types of debris at the job site, such as shingles, tar paper, metal, wood, and other waste materials). Contractors that are dedicated to making a difference in the environment are committed to recycling and willing to take extra steps toward achieving a healthier ecosystem. It just makes good sense to take advantage of that opportunity to do something good for the environment!