Asphalt Shingles May Soon be Recycled into Paving

extracted materials from asphalt shingles

(Credit: Owens Corning)

by | Oct 17, 2023

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Asphalt shingles are closer to being fully recyclable thanks to successful deconstruction of the materials by Owens Corning, a global building and construction materials.

The Toledo, Ohio-based company said it made progress on two key shingle recycling workstreams that will help it reach the goal of recycling 2 million tons of shingles per year in the United States by 2030. The process involves shingle deconstruction and extracting asphalt, granules, and filler.

Owens Corning and its partners launched an asphalt shingle recycling pilot late last year, with the aim to “deconstruct residential and industrial waste shingles and extract their component materials.” The process reclaims the entire shingle and avoids any components going to waste.

The news comes as numerous industries are finding new ways to recycle building materials. Buildings and building materials account for a huge portion of environmental impacts, including approximately 30% of global emissions coming from building emissions, according to the International Energy Agency. Recycling asphalt shingles, as well as other building materials such as cement, may reduce the overall environmental impact of residential and industrial buildings. Decarbonizing the built environment is a huge challenge, but there are many innovations taking place, including recycling once hard-to-recycle materials. 

Sustainable Shingle Success

With the success of its two workstreams thus far, Owens Corning says it will continue to enhance the pilot process to optimize the results for future applications. One of those future uses is asphalt paving. The company has partnered with the National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT) in researching the use of recycled shingles in pavement.

Together, NCAT and Owens Corning are evaluating the performance of asphalt mixtures made with a mix using recycled asphalt shingles. The studies are also looking at the environmental impact of using the asphalt mixtures, and the companies will generate full lifecycle assessment data. The information will then be published industry-wide to educate asphalt contractors. 

“These studies are in progress now, and we believe the results will show a clear value proposition for hot mix asphalt contractors. With the right balanced mix design, the carbon footprint of asphalt paving mixture can be lowered while maintaining the performance of the road,” Laurand Lewandowski, director of Asphalt Innovation, said in a statement. “Aligning ourselves with industry leaders who can have a positive influence on this initiative is a significant benefit toward advancing the use of recycled asphalt shingles across the country, and ultimately keeping shingles out of landfills.”

In addition, Owens Corning said it will scale up the pilot facility to increase output and evaluation.

“The progress being made at the pilot is a very promising step toward the future of shingle recycling,” Gunner Smith, Owens Corning roofing president, said in a press release. “What started at lab scale as shingle deconstruction with benchtop materials and testing has now been proven at pilot scale. The next step is plant trials where we will utilize the extracted materials in the development of new prototype shingles.”

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