Markets for Recycled Asphalt Shingles

Workers removing asphalt shingles from a roof to be recycled.

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Asphalt shingle recycling is a component of construction and demolition recycling. Like other materials needing to be recycled, the creation of markets for this material is critical to the success of this activity, creating the necessary demand necessary to stimulate industry growth.

At present, asphalt shingle recyclers can generate revenue in the form of tipping fees to accept old shingles (typically lower than at landfills), as well as through marketing activities to sell processed material. Markets for recycled asphalt shingles include existing early-stage markets such as hot-mix asphalt and cold patch, as well as other emerging and potential markets.

Two million tons of recycled asphalt shingle material was utilized in payment across the U.S. in 2015, saving taxpayers $2.6 billion, according to one report. An estimated 80 percent of U.S. homes have asphalt shingles.

There are two key factors that influence market demand for RAS (recycled asphalt shingles). The first driver is the cost of petroleum. High petroleum prices make RAS more attractive, and vice versa. Another consideration is state regulation. State rules regarding limitations on the use of recycled shingles in hot mix asphalt, as well as pertaining to allowing recycling facilities to open, for example, can either hinder or support recycling efforts in the state.

Hot-Mix Asphalt

Studies indicate that the use of a small percentage of recycled asphalt shingles (RAS) in hot-mix asphalt helps improve the performance of pavement by reducing rutting and cracking. Because RAS substitutes for more expensive virgin asphalt cement and aggregate, it lowers the overall cost of hot-mix asphalt. The growth of this application is anticipated as recycled content continues to be accepted by more states. Recycled asphalt shingles are currently authorized for hot-mix asphalt pavement in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Texas, Missouri, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, and New Hampshire. Many additional states allow the use of manufacturer’s scrap in hot-mix.

Cold Patch Material

Recycled asphalt materials can also be used to fill potholes in road surfaces, where it is packed down by the weight of passing vehicles. This is a well-established practice in Chicago, as well as New Jersey, Washington, and California.

Road Aggregate for Unpaved Roadways

Recycled asphalt shingles are also successfully used on unpaved roadways when ground and mixed with gravel before application. Tests indicate that this approach increases road durability while reducing dust emissions, road noise, and displacement of gravel from the roadway.

Temporary Driveways or Roads

In such an application, the ground material is spread and then compacted to create temporary surfaces.

New Asphalt Shingles

Studies have indicated that new shingles can be manufactured with up to 20% recycled content without impacting production, and while providing significant energy savings.

Energy Recovery

While the use of recycled shingles to create heat is an established market in Europe, concerns about pollution make this a less likely market in the U.S.

Interlocking Bricks

R-Three Technologies, one innovator, developed a plan to produce interlocking asphalt bricks from recycled asphalt shingles, with an eye to cost-effective and easy to install applications such as decks, driveways, patios, pool decks, courtyards, sidewalks, and medians. In March 2017, however, the company announced that it temporarily suspended its operations as a result of having experienced funding challenges.

For more information about asphalt shingle recycling, visit the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association's asphalt shingle recycling resource page, including their Asphalt Shingle Recycling FAQs. Must attend events include the 2019 C&D World Exhibition & Conference, held March 10-11, 2020 in Las Vegas, NV.