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Sacramento Roofing: Article About Asphalt Shingle Recycling

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Providing unbeatable value, versatility and visual appeal, asphalt and architectural shingles are the most popular roof choice across the country, topping 80 percent of American homes. Along with that popularity, comes a major source of waste. Discarded asphalt shingles and the scrap produced by installing new roofs account for 7 to 10 million tons of waste each year. Another 750,000 to 1 million tons of asphalt waste is generated by the production of new roofing each year. At one time, all of that waste would have been dumped in a landfill. An increasing number of experienced and committed Sacramento roofing professionals are focused on recycling this scrap, giving it new life as part of the road system, new roofing material and other useful products.

The case for recycling asphalt shingles began as a way of saving landfills and improving the environment, but it has fairly notable financial benefits as well. Asphalt shingles are made of a felt or fiberglass foundation that is covered in petroleum based asphalt and small protective granules. While their asphalt content varies, most manufactured shingles contain about 40 percent asphalt. Reusing asphalt saves on buying new petroleum based asphalt, a cost reduction that can be significant when oil prices rise. When mixed into other products, the use of recycled asphalt shingles can also save considerable energy costs, according to the Department of Energy.

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With these benefits in mind, once old asphalt shingles are torn off the roof, they're taken to a special recycling center. There, the shingles are separated from their felt or fiberglass bases and any other particles like wood decking that may still be attached. If nails are embedded in the shingle, a rotating magnet is used to remove the metal. The asphalt is ground up into small bits. The size of those small bits varies based on the recycled asphalt's intended market, and sometimes the bits are put through a sieve so that the ground up asphalt can meet specific grading requirements.

While some asphalt shingles are recycled into new asphalt shingles, most become part of the road system. Recycled shingles are used in hot mix asphalt to pave roads, in cold patch material to fix potholes and as aggregate base. The ground up bits are also used to control dust on unpaved rural roads and to cover temporary roads, driveways and parking lots.

The immense popularity of asphalt shingles provides ample resources for researchers to use while innovating exciting new ways to use recycled asphalt shingles. From rooftops to roads, asphalt shingles offer infinite possibilities.

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