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Roofing Shingles Can Be Recycled in Illinois
Roofing shingles and other construction and demolition materials once accounted for 40 percent of the material entering the landfills in the US annually. Thank to increased environmental awareness and recycling programs, this amount has decreased by more than half according to recent studies.
In Illinois, roofing shingles recycling programs are in place for all types of roofing shingles. The primary materials are asphalt, aluminum, steel, and concrete. Aluminum and steel are recycled along with other items made from the same materials, while concrete is pulverized and used for road bedding. Very little aluminum and steel gets recycled from roofing as these are relative newcomers to this particular industry, and their useful lives often exceed that of the home on which they are installed. Concrete tile is not as prevalent in the area and also lasts a very long time; therefore, it is not a widely discussed recyclable. These three materials combined do not come close to the volume of asphalt shingles that come from tear-offs and demolitions of residential homes. Popular and plentiful asphalt would find its way to the landfills if not for local recycling programs.
Asphalt roofing shingles present a few obstacles in regards to the reuse of the material from which they are made. Illinois runs tests on ground asphalt shingles and has found that many of the products contain metals, like arsenic and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, at levels that are toxic to humans and a danger to the environment. Certain types of PAH, as they are referred to, and arsenic have been shown to be carcinogenic to humans at levels found in roofing materials. The use of the recycled material in loose form, if inhaled or brought in constant contact, can be dangerous. Wind or rain can carry the product into water sources, posing a threat to public health. That is why it is expected that a recycler obtain a solid waste permit or a Beneficial Use Determination showing that the intended use of the ground-up material will not allow contaminants to enter the atmosphere.
Once the safety concerns of reusing the roofing shingles have been properly addressed and all safety requirements are met, the ground asphalt can be used for a number of different applications including:
- Road Construction: The discarded material can be crushed and used as bedding underneath new roadways throughout the state and on gravel roads.
- Patch Additive: It is used as an additive to hot patch and cold patch asphalt. Asphalt is not mobile in these applications and presents no risk to health. Ecology does not expect these applications to go through regulatory approval of solid waste management.
- Driveways: It can be utilized on unpaved driveways.
- Other Uses: This debris can be used in horse arenas, and for landscaping, animal bedding, walking trail construction and more.
When you need new roofing shingles and are hiring a professional roofer to replace the roof on your home, check to see what solid waste handling methods they use, and do not consider just the cost of the job as a determining factor in the decision process. It is your responsibility as to where your old roof winds up: In the landfill adding potential toxicity to the ground water or recycled and place beneath one of Illinois’ scenic highways. The choice is yours to recycle, reuse and repurpose. Discuss your options with your contractor.
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