Building Green – Environmentally Friendly Construction, Recycling Roofing Materials


It’s a messy business, tearing off an old roof. It takes a hefty investment of elbow juice, sweat, grit and determination to be a roofer. After all, an average asphalt shingle roof, say in the Calgary Alberta area, weighs in at around 5000 lbs. And although the average wood roof weighs in at less than half of asphalt, the wood is much more difficult to remove. Yes, it’s a tough business, and a good thing people are willing to do it. But what happens after the roof has been removed? Where does it go? With somewhere in the range of 2500 roofs being replaced each year in a city like Calgary, we’re talking about 12.5 million pounds of roofing materials, the equivalent weight of 13 Boeing 747 jets, each year, from just one city. Where does it go?

To the dump! When was the last time you took a drive through your city landfill? Never? Well there you have it, the mystery is solved. Millions of pounds of asphalt shingles, tar/oil essentially, is being buried each year in North America, while the world fights amongst itself to be the first to get it when it’s pumped out in the middle-East. Where’s the sense in all this? No one has a complete answer for this, and thankfully there are now alternatives to dumping. North America can now recycle %99 of every old asphalt shingle roof. Here’s how it works:

Asphalt shingles: Calgary roofing contractors, as well as contractors from other cities, simply dump the old roofs off at a recycling facility instead of at the dump. And at zero extra cost. Yes. You read this correctly. Roofing contractors incur zero additional cost to recycle 12.5million pounds of roofing materials. Here’s the step by step breakdown of how this:

1. The roofing contractor drives to the special recycling location

2. Weighs in the vehicle and roof weight on a large scale

3. Dumps the old roof into a large container

4. Weighs in again at the large scale, the difference between the beginning weight and the ending weight equals the weight of the roof

5. Pays $75 for each ton of roof material dropped off, the same rate as with the city landfill and then goes back to work doing roofing

6. The recycling facility transports the large container with roofing materials to an assembly line where it can be spread out for easier sorting

7. Workers separate the asphalt shingles and tar paper from metal and plastic

8. Asphalt shingles and tar paper are melted down in order to separate the tar/oil from the granules and fibres

9. Oil is sold to producers of road asphalt, to be used in road construction

10. Metal is sold to metal recycling plants to be melted down and re-moulded

11. Plastic is sent to standard plastic recycling plants

And there you have it. This process is in use right now with Calgary roofing contractors and other cities. With some hope and efficient follow through, all of us will see drastic reduce in building material waste as well as some increase in supply of low grade oil. Perhaps this drastic change will occur on a global scale within our lifetimes, perhaps even sooner…or perhaps not. The choice of “recycling” and “not recycling” is now in the hands of the roofing contractor.


Source by Eric Gilbert