Are Roofing Shingles Recyclable?

Are Roofing Shingles Recyclable

Are Roofing Shingles Recyclable? Roofing shingles are not easily recyclable. The composite materials they are made of are difficult to break down and repurpose. Recent initiatives are making recycling asphalt shingles more viable.

Can You Recycle Roof Shingles? An In-Depth Look

When it comes time to replace your worn-out roof, you may wonder if the torn-off shingles can be recycled rather than sent to the landfill. 

Traditionally, recycling asphalt roof shingles has not been economically feasible. But, new processes and markets are emerging that make repurposing old roofing materials more viable.

This article will examine if and how roofing shingles can be recycled, the limitations and benefits, what to look for in recyclable products, and disposal best practices when replacing an old roof.

Key Takeaways on Recycling Roof Shingles

  • Roofing shingles contain layered materials like asphalt, fibers, and granules that are hard to separate and process.
  • Techniques exist to grind, process, and repurpose shingles, but limited markets and high costs restrict recycling rates.
  • Recycling initiatives are increasing as sustainability gains priority, and markets expand for recycled content.
  • Look for shingle manufacturers that incorporate recycled materials into new products.
  • Follow best practices to reuse, recycle, or properly dispose of old shingles during tear-off.

Why Are Roof Shingles Difficult to Recycle?

Standard asphalt shingles are classified as construction debris and discarded in landfills because they have typically been uneconomical to recycle. Here’s why repurposing them is challenging:

Composite materials 

Shingles have several layered components, including asphalt, felt or fiberglass mats, ceramic granules, and specialty coatings. Separating and reprocessing each material is difficult.


Nails, flashing, felt underlayment, and adhesives also get mixed in during tear-off. These complicate recycling efforts.

Abundant supply 

Over 13 million tons of waste shingle material is generated annually in North America alone. Such high volume makes reuse hard.

Lack of infrastructure 

Few specialized processors and manufacturing partners exist to facilitate recycling old shingles back into usable products.

High processing costs 

The techniques needed to grind, separate, and treat shingles for reuse have traditionally not been worth the expense.

Minimal market demand  

Until recently, limited demand from both manufacturers and consumers existed for building products containing recycled asphalt shingles.

These challenges have led to low recycling rates as reclaiming roof shingles is generally cost-prohibitive. But the tide is starting to turn.

Emerging Advancements in Shingle Recycling

Increasing interest in sustainability has spurred innovations that are making roof shingle recycling more practical on a larger scale:

  • Specialized grinding – Shingle grinders can shred them into pieces while removing nails and debris for processing.
  • Segregation technology – Systems like air classification can help sort ground shingles into asphalt, fiber, and aggregate fractions for repurposing.
  • Asphalt processing – Techniques like solvent extraction and pyrolysis break down and extract liquid asphalt from shingles to be reused.
  • Manufacturing integration – Some shingle makers are integrating programs to incorporate recycled content into new products.
  • Recycled material markets – Demand is growing for recycled shingle content in pavement, roads, construction materials, and more.
  • Supportive policies – State and local governments increasingly support shingle recycling through incentives, mandates, and public education.

Though still in the early phases, these advancements slowly improve recycling rates and feasibility.

What Can Recycled Asphalt Shingles Be Turned Into?

Once old roof shingles are processed, the recycled materials can be repurposed in various ways:

  • Asphalt – Liquid asphalt can be extracted and reused as binder and coater material for new shingles and pavement.
  • Aggregate – The crushed mineral granules create an aggregate mix for paving road bedding, pathways, and driveways.
  • Felt – The recycled fiberglass mat can be incorporated into roofing underlayments and other building materials.[1]
  • Fuel – Shingles contain petroleum and burn cleanly, making the fiber and mineral remnants usable to generate fuel and electricity.
  • Cement – Mixing finely ground shingles into cement boosts strength and longevity in concrete products.
  • Cold Patch – The asphalt can be mixed with aggregate to create a cold-application patching material to fill potholes.
  • Landscaping – Recycled shingles can be used under playgrounds, riding arenas, and walking paths.

Manufacturers are also exploring other possibilities as recycled material markets continue expanding.

Roofing Shingles Recyclable

What Percentage of Shingles Can Be Recycled?

Just how much of an old asphalt shingle can be reused or recycled? Estimates range depending on processing techniques:

  • A 20-30% recurrence rate is typically cited for roof shingles when mixed demolition waste is ground together.
  • 60-80% recyclable when shingles are isolated and specially processed to maximize material recovery.
  • The asphalt portion alone is estimated to be 85% recyclable under optimal separation conditions.

So, while not 100% reusable, most of a roof shingle’s materials can be reclaimed with the right equipment and processes. Advances are gradually improving recycling percentages.

Recyclable Roofing Shingles to Buy

If you’re installing a new roof, look for shingle options made with recycled content. Some manufacturers are leading the way:

  • CertainTeed – Their Ecocycle brand integrates recycled content into the asphalt coating and backing materials.
  • Malarkey Roofing – Shingles using a recycled asphalt blend, including post-consumer tear-offs.
  • GAF – Their Timberline UHDZ line utilizes up to 20% recycled content from shingle manufacturing scrap.
  • Owens Corning – TruDefinition Duration MAX incorporates materials reclaimed from other building projects.

Ask your contractor for shingle recommendations that support recycling initiatives. Some may even offer credits if tear-off shingles get diverted to recycling facilities. Every bit helps expand efforts.

Roof Tear-Off Best Practices for Recycling

During roof replacement, properly handling old shingles is key to recycling efforts:

  • Separate materials – Keep tear-off shingles separate from other debris for easier processing and recycling.
  • Store intact – Avoid unnecessary breaking up of shingles, which complicates recycling.
  • Find local recyclers – Ask your contractor to deal with shingles through reputable channels with recycling partners.
  • Reuse onsite – Shredded shingles for landscaping or walkways on your property keep materials out of landfills.
  • E-waste options – For non-recyclable materials like roofing electronics, use responsible e-waste disposal services.

Proper planning makes it easier to handle waste responsibly. Be sure your roofing contractor follows safe, sustainable practices.

Recycling Roof Shingles

Recycling asphalt shingles is complicated by their multilayer composition, but advances are making the process more feasible. 

Support innovative manufacturers who incorporate recycled content into products. And when replacing your roof, take steps to reuse, recycle, or dispose of tear-off debris responsibly.

Though true shingle recycling is still limited, progress is being made to upcycle these extremely abundant materials rather than overwhelm landfills. 

As awareness and demand for recycled building products grow, roof shingle recycling will continue gaining traction.

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