Tear-off asphalt shingle roofing now has a new lease on life in Western Canada. Recycling asphalt shingles (“RAS”) into road base has over a decade-long history in the Eastern States and Canada. Although not a new process to Canada, it’s taken a little longer to “lift off” so to speak in BC and Alberta. Recycling tear-off or deconstruction asphalt shingles into a ground-up RAS product literally paves the way to better-quality and less expensive roadways.
The environmental necessity of re-using shingles is highlighted in an Athena Institute report (2007), which estimated that up to 1.25 million tonnes of asphalt-based roofing waste is generated each year in Canada, with re-roofing accounting for most of this waste. In the Vancouver region this major waste stream adds as much as 80,000 tonnes per year or the equivalent of 75 lbs per person to landfills.
Alberta’s Climate Change Action Plan is expected to cut projected greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050, and Metro Vancouver has initiated a “Zero Waste Challenge” program the goal of which is to divert 70 percent of waste from landfills by 2015. Recycling roofing shingles can contribute to achieving these goals. For every tonne of asphalt shingles recycled, the local economy can save two barrels of oil that would have been used to produce the shingles, creating a smaller carbon footprint by saving up to 160,000 barrels of oil annually. According to Dan Krivit, a shingle recycling consultant in Minnesota and Senior Project Manager at Foth Infrastructure & Environment, the greenhouse gas savings for every tonne of RAS recycled equals 60 tonnes of CO2 saved. In addition, recycling employs seven people for every one person employed at a landfill site.
Gemaco Sales Ltd is the first asphalt shingle recycling facility in Western Canada and opened the only licensed facility dedicated to asphalt shingle recycling in the Metro Vancouver region in February 2010. With their mobile asphalt shingle grinding machine they also perform contact shingle grinding for companies in the BC Interior as well as Alberta, redirecting this valuable resource from even more landfills.
When residential asphalt shingles are brought to Gemaco’s Asphalt Shingle Recycling Station in Delta, BC the loads are checked for harmful materials, such as asbestos and evaluated for acceptable small amounts of non-hazardous paper, plastic, metal and wood mixed with the recyclable shingle materials. At approximately every 100 tonnes, a load is segregated and tested for asbestos. Once cleared of the risk of possible contamination, the load is reintroduced to the cleaning process.
After the shingles are cleaned manually and with heavy equipment they’re loaded into a purpose-built, mobile Rotochopper RG1 shingle grinding machine. There’s no need to remove the nails from shingles as this machine is equipped with a cross-belt magnet that pulls them out during grinding. Whether organic or fiberglass, shingles ground to a specific size or grade retain an asphalt content of over 20 per cent that can be extracted. Using just three to five percent of RAS in hot or warm asphalt mixes will replace considerable amounts of virgin asphalt, and this may provide paving companies with substantial savings. This end product can also be used as cement kiln fuel, as a road base offering dust control for secondary roads, as well as for paving parking lots, bike paths and driveways.
Hilary Hanna is vice-president of Gemaco Sales Ltd. in Kelowna, BC. Contact Hilary at email@example.com