Recycling asphalt shingles into roads and fuel makes much more sense than burying it in landfills.

The question is, is it feasible?

I had the pleasure of meeting with Jennifer Shriver of Colorado Roofs to Roads Project and Kent Pugsley of Asphalt Recovery Specialists. Kent is the Chief Operations  Officer for ARS and was a wealth of information regarding the recycling process. The over all process is pretty simple. However, it required training the roofers bringing shingles into the facility. They need to separate their trash, lunch, soda bottles and such and the metal flashings from the rest of the roofing material. The facility is very attractive to the roofer with waste shingles because it is closer and cheaper to dump here than other places. It is also a much nicer, cleaner environment than most landfills. They are willing to take a little extra effort to separate the materials. They also can claim that they are a “green” company” helping the environment, which they are

There are two dumpsters as you enter the facility one for trash and one for metals, the roofer throws these materials here then moves to the shingle area where the material is unloaded, tested for asbestos and sorted. They take all remaining trash, metals and rolls of felts or plastics out of them before moving them to the stock pile. Once in the stock pile a 20 foot tall mountain of shingles they wait to be ground into a fine black granular powder. The nails are extracted during the grinding process with magnets and are recycled separately. The Recycled Asphalt Shingles (RAS)  can then be incorporated into the hot mix asphalt used for paving roads. There is also testing being done to determine the suitability for using it as a fuel in power plants when mixed with coal.

What could possibly be the down side to this process? Currently Colorado has no specifications requiring Recycled Asphalt Shingles (RAS) to be used in their paving projects. There is a draft of a specification that will hopefully be adopted by the end of the year. However, that will only require that 3% of RAS be incorporated into the hot mix. That means that currently sitting on the ground in this one facility are enough shingles waiting to be ground to do all the CDOT projects for the next year. We really need more uses for the RAS to make this a viable program. The hope is that by raising awareness of the benefits RAS can offer to roads, the general public will put pressure on the government and private sector to utilize this product, as well as come up with other alternative uses. It has been used successfully for dust control what other uses can we come up with?

As the prices of oil continue to rise it will become increasingly more important to find ways to recycle asphalt and petroleum based products. With the hail season rapidly approaching we might see much more material entering this facility than it can handle, unless we find more end use products.