OREGONIAN (April 18, 2011) – Your old roof is rich in oil. But until recently, when it came time for a new one, those drab asphalt shingles went to the landfill because there wasn’t a big market for recycling them.
And what a waste. The average “reroof” involves removing roughly 3 tons of roofing material. Each ton of shingles contains the equivalent of one barrel of oil that can be reclaimed as asphalt, according to industry estimates.
Now there’s an easy, effective way to recycle those shingles. At the newly opened Northwest Shingle Recyclers, 6110 S.E. 111th Ave., it can actually be cheaper to recycle the shingles than to send them to a landfill. It costs $65 a ton to dump them at Northwest Shingle and approximately $85 at a Metro transfer station. The recycler can charge less because there’s money to be made reselling them for asphalt — $10 to $30 a ton. Northwest Shingle says it’s just months away from opening another facility in Tigard
Talk about win-win. Shingle recycling is taking off because the state has approved recycled asphalt in its road mix.
On a small scale, Greenway Recycling in Portland has recycled shingles and other items for a few years.
But this steps it up to another level. Since it opened in November, Northwest Shingle Recyclers has salvaged about 3,500 tons with plans to collect 10,000 to 20,000 tons in its first year. And Northwest is only about shingles, which it collects and converts into usable material.
To ensure your old roof is recycled, ask your roofer what it plans to do with the debris. Big operations such as Interstate Roofing Inc. in Portland and Bliss Roofing Inc. in Clackamas recycle at Northwest Shingle. But others will too once they learn about it. Or know the customer cares.
Interstate Roofing is especially excited because last year alone the company took down 5,082 tons of construction debris from nearly 2,000 roofs and while it recycled some, now it can recycle almost all of it.
“I personally feel it’s an important thing for us to do, as do our employees and our customers,” said Interstate President Shelley Metzler. That company is big enough to dump its own old roofing material instead of paying Metro to do it, but has decided to pay more to recycle.
It’s a pretty straightforward process. Dump trucks full of old roof pull up to Northwest Shingle and get weighed on a giant scale before lumbering inside the cavernous 10,000-square-foot building. Old-roof loads don’t just contain asphalt shingles: there’s wood and plastic and metal and whatever garbage people walking by the dumpster throw in, said Ron Roth of RA Roth Construction in Happy Valley who partnered with Greg Bolt of ABC Roofing Co. in Clackamas to create Northwest Shingle Recyclers. Employees there sort it all, recycling the plastic, paper and metal separately.
The shingles get thrown in their own pile, which the company takes to another site where it’s turned into something like coffee grounds and a big magnet pulls out the nails.
Recycled asphalt shingles contain about 30 percent oil and can be sold to asphalt companies that heat it up and mix it into new road asphalt.
Northwest Shingle is part of an alliance with Owens Corning Roofing & Asphalt and Heritage Environmental Services, which already supports roof-shingle recycling in seven other places, mostly in the Midwest where it has been going on for years. Owens Corning helps ensure its roofers recycle the shingles and Heritage works to help develop local recycling facilities.
Putting recycled shingles into the road mix in Oregon wasn’t a snap. The Oregon Department of Transportation wanted to ensure it made good asphalt before building public roads with it. So it did some pilot projects including a stretch of highway east of Bend and a ramp in Salem. Lab reports indicated it’s just as strong as the asphalt without recycled material, said Jeff Gower, state construction and materials engineer.
The state now allows the asphalt mix to contain up to 5 percent recycled shingles. Northwest Shingle Recyclers wanted the state to mandate that, but ODOT doesn’t want to even though it deems it a fine product.
“If we mandate one product over another, it limits the competition,” Gower said.
Northwest Shingle will continue to push for a mandate of at least 2 percent. The average roof lasts 15-30 years, so the shingles will keep coming.
And hopefully they’ll be recycled.
– Carrie Sturrock