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The Asphalt Shingle Recycling Process General Kinematics asphalt shingle roof

The Asphalt Shingle Recycling Process

The United States produces an average of 11 million tons of shingle waste annually from roofing manufacturers and roof tear-offs. But this 11 million tons accounts for almost eight percent of the total annual construction and demolition related waste. Of that 11 million tons, asphalt shingles—the most popular roofing material in the United States—accounts for about 8.8 million tons of waste.

Because it can take up to 300 years for asphalt shingles to fully decompose and the volume of asphalt shingle waste produced is so high, it’s important that businesses and consumers be aware of viable asphalt shingle recycling methods.

Asphalt Properties and Shingle Disposal

The Asphalt Shingle Recycling Process removing old shingles General Kinematics

Asphalt shingles are made by coating organics (paper, cellulose, and wood) or fiberglass sheets with asphalt and granules of sand, glass, or ceramic – which are added to increase durability. An organic asphalt shingle roof can last from 2040 years, yet typical roof warranties span approximately 1525 years. This means total roof replacements happen more frequently than the shingles’ estimated lifespan. Additionally, more expensive fiberglass asphalt shingles can last up to 50 years.

However, when asphalt shingle roofs need replacement due to extensive wind damage, age, leakages or water damage, they are often still well-below their overall lifetime expectancy. This decrease in time used and increase in additional shingle products needed, can cause waste management problems if asphalt shingles are not sustainably disposed of or recycled.

Asphalt Shingle Recycling Benefits

Asphalt, which is a viscous, petroleum-based product (and therefore, a nonrenewable resource), is a great roofing material because it is durable and water-resistant – making it effective at protecting homes from weather-related damage. However, the same material characteristics that make asphalt a great roofing material also make asphalt shingle waste a problem if it is not handled and disposed of properly.

However, recycling asphalt shingles is about more than just keeping these shingles out of landfills. Recycled asphalt can be used to decrease the cost of filling potholes and repaving roads, which can help reduce the burden of road-maintenance costs for taxpayers. Additionally, shingle recycling creates jobs in cities across North America.

Asphalt Shingle Recycling Process

The Asphalt Shingle Recycling Process discarded asphalt roofing shingles General Kinematics

The asphalt shingle recycling process usually involves the repurposing of shingles into an additive for hot-mix asphalt (HMA) or cold patch to fill cracks and potholes in roads. To do this, after the roofing waste is sorted to remove extraneous (non-asphalt) materials, the shingles are ground into smaller particles as per state and local regulations using asphalt shingle grinders, which are specially designed to handle the abrasive  material.

In most cases, the shingles are ground into 0.25–2.00-inch pieces, depending on their intended post-recycling purpose. Larger particles are used for base stabilization course – the lower layer of paving, while smaller, finer particles are used in the surface course – the top layer of paving. Typically, HMA can be composed of up to five percent recycled shingles (by weight), and the remaining weight is made up of softer asphalts to offset the hardness of the asphalt shingles.


shingle sorting process General Kinematics

Looking to improve your shingle recycling process? The General Kinematics, FINGER-SCREEN™ can improve shingle separation for further processing. Contact our resource recovery experts to learn more. Want to learn more about shingle recyclers near you? Learn more at

General Kinematics Corporation, incorporated in 1960, was established to market, design, and custom fabricate innovative vibratory equipment for the foundry, recycling, mining, and processing industries. Today the company continues as one of the world’s largest suppliers of vibratory processing equipment and has evolved into an industry-leading EPC firm. Headquartered in Crystal Lake, IL, General Kinematics has seven global locations providing engineering and support to a world-wide customer base. GK is a third generation, family-owned company and is ISO 9001 certified.

3 thoughts on "The Asphalt Shingle Recycling Process"

  1. I found it interesting when you said that recycling asphalt can mean reduced costs for filling potholes and repaving roads. With that in mind, I will make sure that the asphalt driveway we have will be recycled when it starts crumbling. It will save us money since we won’t have to buy new materials for this. We just moved into this property last year, so it will still take years before we need this service.

  2. Wow! I didn’t taught it still have used after being replaced, I just re-roof our house last month and have some scrap asphalt shingles if only earlier I read this post it will be much better to have more use of the old roof, anyways great blog! so educational. Thanks!

  3. My cousin has been thinking about getting her asphalt shingles recycled in order to be a lot better. She would really like to get some help from a professional in order to make sure that they use the right materials. I liked what you said about how state, and local regulations can determine how small particles can be made with the right kind of shingles grinders that can handle the abrasive material.

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