Asphalt shingles are some of the most popular roofing materials in the United States today. Unfortunately, many don’t consider asphalt as an eco-friendly material because it has a relatively short lifespan, requires considerable resources and energy to produce, and generates substantial waste materials. However, as reported by William Giakoumatos in cdrecycler.com, many roofing and recycling companies are combining their efforts to recycle asphalt shingle wastes into road paving materials, despite the government’s patchy regulatory policies.

About 11 million tons of asphalt shingle waste are generated in the U.S. each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The vast majority of that waste—about 90 percent—is construction scrap from roof installations and tear-offs from roof repairs and replacements. Shingle manufacturing scrap accounts for 9 to 10 percent of this material.

For the construction and demolition industry, roofing waste is no small matter. Roughly 10 percent of construction and demolition debris is asphalt shingle material. Asphalt shingle roof replacement can generate 2 to 5 pounds of scrap material per square foot of roof area, according to the EPA.

Asphalt shingles can be recycled and turned into highways and parking lots. But regulations regarding asphalt shingles recycling vary by state, creating a patchwork regulatory environment that poses challenges for the construction and demolition industry.

In another news article, however, it was reported that around 1.2 millon tons of reclaimed asphalt shingles were collected in 2011 alone, which were subsequently used for new pavements. Hence, despite what those in the recycling industry consider to be obstacles to recycling, there have been positive developments in recent years. The encouraging results are partly due to efforts of reputable roofing contractors in Palo Alto, CA like Shelton Roofing, who have made the commitment to go green and recycle the waste products they generate.

An ideal, eco-friendly roofing material should be durable such that the need for replacements are spaced far between, thus, decreasing the amount of resources needed to produce the replacements. As the weather conditions in Palo Alto are milder and less extreme, asphalt shingles may be expected to last in this city longer than in many other parts of the country. In any case, roofing systems require maintenance to last until the end of their useful service life, and this highlights the value of proper Palo Alto roof repairs and maintenance practices.

(From Razing the Roof, Construction & Demolition Recycling, May 13, 2013)