The majority of Residential housing in Canada use Asphalt Shingles to protect them from the elements. Discarded asphalt shingles take up landfill space and pollute the environment , releasing carcinogenic hydrocarbon.
About 1.25 million ton of asphalt-based roofing materials are discarded annually in Canada. The direct cost to dump shingles is a fraction of the cost of recycling when all is factored in: collecting the materials , separating and sorting them , removing nails , investing in the equipment for processing and then transporting the product to appropriate markets. In turn, these markets need to also make investments in specialized equipment or adapt current production methods to accommodate the reprocessed waste stream.
The large and growing volume of construction waste currently being dumped, the potential benefits in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the increasingly limited availability of landfill space, are the drivers for necessary recycling programs of this type. The additional cost to recycle however, is offset indirectly, by significant longterm saving of valuable landfill airspace. Although initially, it seems cheaper to the consumer to dump waste asphalt shingles into our landfills, the cost of setting up new landfills must be factored in! New landfill setup cost is astronomical to meet the environmental standards of today, and that cost must be borne by the consumer in the end. Another immeasurable cost is the environmental concerns by not only land filling a reusable waste product, but also the extra environmental pollution that comes from mining new resources to fill the void of the volume of product not recycled.
Processed asphalt shingles are primarily used as an additive in hot mix asphalt. It can also be used for gravel road dust suppression, hot patch road repairs, as an admixture to asphalt and cement, as processed material mixed with aggregate suitable for building up roads or multi-use nature trails, or as fuel for cement kilns and electricity generation. (Asphalt shingles have a very high BTU value).
What is needed to move this industry forward, is to do the necessary pilot studies and demonstration projects to show ultimately, if the fee to dump asphalt shingles in landfills remains much lower than the cost of recycling that material, they will go into the landfill. Even if one municipality says it will no longer accept asphalt materials, in the absence of unilateral regulations, the shingles will go into another landfill.
Co-operation from recyclers, municipalities and citizens, will ensure all recyclable materials will be diverted from our landfills and processed into a re-usable product.This will save valuable airspace in our landfills, which translates into savings for the tax payer and a Greener Future for all!
As for most new markets to be developed, it sometimes takes private and public partnership to provide the spark for business development, job growth, and environmental protection.