The Staggering Impact of Roofing Waste (and a Recycling Solution)
Eleven million tons of asphalt shingle waste is generated annually in the U.S. What can you do to make a change?
When was the last time you thought about roofing waste? Yeah, we thought so.
Most of us think about asphalt roof shingles only when we need to repair or replace a roof. Recycling shingles probably doesn’t make your top 10 list of everyday recycling ideas to help protect the planet.
But, roofing waste is a big deal. Consider this: 11 million tons of asphalt shingle waste is generated in the U.S. each year. That is more than the combined weight of every Ford vehicle sold in the U.S. in 2011. If you think about how many houses and commercial buildings we have in this country — how many rooftops we have — you will begin to appreciate how much roofing waste we generate.
Recycling shingles can have a huge impact on reducing that waste. Consider the following facts about shingle waste:
- More than 12.5 billion square feet of shingles are manufactured each year in the U.S.
- That’s more than 448 square miles of roof shingles — enough to cover Washington, D.C., with shingles four-and-a-half times.
- 11 million tons of asphalt shingle waste is generated in the U.S. each year.
- Recycling 11 million tons of asphalt roofing shingles is the equivalent of saving 11 million barrels of oil.
- The U.S. manufactures enough asphalt shingles each year to cover the entire Facebook campus 11,000 times.
- Asphalt roof shingles don’t have to fill up landfills. They can be recycled!
Reduce, reuse and recycle shingles
Roofing contractors can reduce shingle waste by measuring accurately and only purchasing what is needed, which also keeps roofing costs down. When hiring a roofing contractor, ask each contractor you interview for an estimate of shingle use. A contractor who purchases an appropriate amount of shingles will contain costs and reduce waste.
Also, ask your roofing contractors if they plan to recycle old shingles after they have been removed from your roof. In many states, recycled shingles can be used in asphalt for paving roads. Choose a contractor who recycles shingle waste, rather than sending it to a landfill.
Finally, ask your contractor what will be done with surplus shingles. Extra shingles can be donated to Habitat for Humanity and other charitable organizations. Ask your local Habitat chapter if it can recommend a roofing contractor who supports this mission.
Recycling shingles when you replace or repair your roof can go a long way toward reducing the millions of tons of shingles sent to landfills each year. That’s a goal homeowners and contractors alike should work toward.