May 2008

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Asphalt shingle recycling is gaining momentum

by Julie Gevrenov
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Recycling markets for post-consumer asphalt roofing shingles (tear-offs) are starting to gain ground. The blossoming green building movement, emphasis on environmental stewardship, increasing oil prices, aggregate shortages, efforts to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, state recycling programs and regulations, local recycling ordinances, increasing tipping (disposal) fees and difficulty choosing sites for new landfills are some drivers pushing recycling of construction and demolition materials into the limelight.

In addition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Resource Conservation Challenge is drawing attention to reuse and recycling of construction and demolition materials.

According to the Construction Materials Recycling Association (CMRA), an estimated 11 million tons of asphalt roofing shingles are generated annually in the U.S., and some estimates are higher. Compared with other construction and demolition materials such as metal, concrete and asphalt pavement, only a small percentage of asphalt shingle tear-offs are currently recovered, leaving significant opportunity to use recycled asphalt shingles.

The primary use for recycled asphalt shingles in the U.S. is as a road building material, particularly for use in hot-mix asphalt. Other uses of recycled asphalt shingles include cold-mix asphalt, cold patch, road base, dust control, mulch,...

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