How Do Shingles Become Roads?

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Photo: Shutterstock

Recycled shingles have the potential to contribute to 125,000 miles of paved highway each year. Photo: Shutterstock

The EPA estimates that up to 10 million tons of shingle tear-off waste is generated in the U.S. every year.

Formerly, all of this material was landfilled — making it a sizable portion of the construction and demolition waste stream — but new technologies and innovative recycling programs are diverting shingle waste from landfills and transforming it into new asphalt roads.

Think a few shingles won’t make a difference? Think again. Back in 2009, Owens Corning Roofing and Asphalt set up a first-of-its-kind shingle recycling program, and the company recently celebrated a landmark milestone of 1 million tons of shingles recycled since the program’s inception.

Shingle debris from one average home can help pave 200 feet of a two-lane highway. To put that in perspective, recycled shingles have the potential to contribute to 125,000 miles of paved highway each year — more than half the distance to the moon, according to the National Asphalt Paving Association.

But how exactly does it all work? It can be baffling to figure out how the roof above your head becomes the streets beneath your feet. To get some insight into the process, Earth911 sat down with Jason Haus, CEO of Dem-Con and board member of the Construction & Demolition Recycling Association (CDRA), for an insider’s look at how it all happens.

Next page: How Are Shingles Recycled?

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Mary Mazzoni

Mary Mazzoni

Mary is a lifelong vegetarian and enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, biking and relaxing in the park. When she’s not outside, she’s probably watching baseball. She is a former assistant editor for Earth911.
Mary Mazzoni