Asphalt roofing shingles are the most popular and common type of roofing shingle in North America. Most residential properties, like homes and apartment complexes, use asphalt shingles. If you’ve ever seen a roof get replaced, you know how many old shingles are thrown to the side and how many new shingles might get damaged and also be discarded. If you’re mindful of the environment, you may ask yourself: “Should you recycle asphalt shingles?” We’ll answer that for you.

So, Should You Recycle Asphalt Shingles?

The average replacement for a residential roof generally discards one to three tons of asphalt shingles. A roof consists of one or two old layers before they’re both pulled off for a full replacement. This is where a number of shingles comes into play. These shingles are often loaded into a truck or dumpster, then discarded at the local dump. It can take asphalt shingles up to 300 years to degrade when left at the dump.

One of the reasons asphalt shingles are dumped rather than recycled is because the recycling process for them needs to be done in a specialized environment. When recycled properly, a single roof can reduce the need for oil in the United States by two barrels. This may not seem like a lot from a single roof but when you consider that it’s estimated that 10 million tons of asphalt shingles are dumped every year. If those had been recycled, just imagine the impact on the environment it could have.

Asphalt shingles are recycled when roofing companies collect the discarded shingles then sort them from the non-asphalt materials. Nails will be removed at the recycling center when dropped off. Often, recycling asphalt shingles might cost some money; some facilities do it for free but when there’s a charge, this usually keeps roofers from going to the trouble unless pressed by homeowners.

If you want your asphalt shingles recycled, talk to your roofer about ensuring it gets done. Whether the cost is passed on to you or the roofer takes care of it themselves, ensuring you’re cutting down on waste in the world is one way to reduce your carbon footprint.