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Residential Roofing

Recycled Shingles are Keeping Asphalt Out of Landfills

By Karen L Edwards

April 15, 2020

Green recycling symbol

In March 2022, the first-ever roof constructed from shingles partly composed of recycled asphalt was installed on a Florida home. The groundbreaking shingles were developed by GAF using recycled asphalt shingle (RAS) technology and have received several recognitions. They were named by Popular Science as one of the Best of What's New for the Home, and by Fast Company as one of the "Next Big Things in Tech" in the "Sustainability" category, bringing "some welcome circularity to the roofing economy" by allowing new shingles to be made using material reclaimed from old ones.

An Environmental Game-Changer

According to estimates by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 11–13 million tons of asphalt shingles are torn off roofs in the U.S. every year. Less than 10% of that material is recycled into roads or other paving projects, while the remaining 90% ends up as waste in landfills. As the leading manufacturer of asphalt shingles, GAF felt a responsibility to use its expertise and resources to help reduce this environmental impact.

To do this, GAF developed a process that uses end-of-life roofing shingles to create briquettes that can be used to manufacture new asphalt shingles, without any reduction in product quality. Forbes magazine featured the new shingles as an Editor's pick, sharing that the company aimed to divert one million tons of asphalt shingle waste from landfills annually by 2030.

During a pilot program conducted at facilities in Lockport, NY and Tampa, FL, GAF found they were able to use about 90% of the shingle waste material they collected and produce new asphalt shingles containing approximately 7% recycled content. This reduces the amount of virgin material needed and diverts shingle waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill. This introduces circularity into a previously linear industrial process by returning torn-off asphalt shingle material to the "beginning" of the workflow to help build new roofs.

GAF patented this breakthrough RoofCycle™ Process and the new RAS-containing shingles as the Timberline HDZ® RoofCycle™ Series. Now it was time to test them out in the real world.

First Recycled Asphalt Shingle Roof Protects Florida Home

posing with GAF team in front of house

Team members from GAF, Watertight Roofing Service and Habitat for Humanity gather to honor Horace Montgomery with a new roof.

The first roof installation was destined to be donated to a Tampa, FL family: local TV station, 10 Tampa Bay, had reported that the recipients of the new roof — Horace Montgomery and his son Carl, both veterans residing in the home where Carl has lived for 50 years — needed to replace their roof. It was a replacement that they couldn't afford. That's when Habitat for Humanity of Hillsborough County and GAF stepped in to help. The installation was completed by local GAF Master Elite® contractor Watertight Roofing Service. Speaking to 10 Tampa Bay, Carl said: "It's a wonderful feeling. You can't help but be so grateful that somebody would come out and do all this."

Wider Social Impact from Recycling Asphalt Shingles

According to the EPA, reducing the amount of construction and demolition waste delivers more than environmental benefits. The process fosters "employment and economic activities in recycling industries [that] provide increased business opportunities within the local community, especially when deconstruction and selective demolition methods are used."

GAF plans to expand their capabilities to incorporate RAS into all of their asphalt shingle products, and aims to divert one million tons of asphalt shingles annually from landfills by 2030.

The company has committed more than $100 million to bring the RoofCycle™ process to commercial scale. To learn more about the containing recycled content and to get notified when they will be available in your area, visit the GAF shingle recycling page.

About the Author

Karen L. Edwards is a freelance writer for the construction industry and has a passion for roofing, having worked in the industry for 20 years.

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Manufacturing sustainability is a top priority for GAF. In 2022, the company announced its 2030 Planet Goals to "focus on operational improvements, product transparency, and the introduction of circularity in the asphaltic shingle industry."Looking to lead positive change while considering the long-term impact of its business on the planet, GAF identified several goals, including:Diverting 1 million tons of roofing materials from landfills while integrating recycled shingle materials into new shingle productsDiverting 80% of manufacturing waste from landfills, recycling all shingle and TPO scrap that results from the manufacturing process, and recycling or reusing fiberglass mat scraps and coresReducing embodied carbon and operation carbon throughout its manufacturing and operationsAchieving Environmental Product Declarations for its core products, conducting life cycle assessments, and generating 2.5 GW of power from solar roofs in partnership with GAF EnergyMeeting these goals takes time, resources, innovation, and ingenuity, all backed by a team working to build a better world. Every GAF location is striving to meet the company's goals. Looking back on the progress made in 2023, some impressive accomplishments are bringing the company closer to achieving full manufacturing sustainability.Residential ManufacturingThe GAF Mt. Vernon, Indiana, shingle manufacturing plant worked toward achieving sustainable operations through robust recycling efforts. The team established a shingle recycling outlet estimated to divert thousands of tons of asphalt shingles from landfills annually. This has eliminated thousands of dollars in disposal fees and reduced transportation costs.The Mt. Vernon staff found creative ways to keep complex waste materials out of landfills, including working with a local golf course that could take the plant's waste sand. The team implemented an internal recycling program that includes cardboard and packaging materials, increasing its waste diversion score.Commercial ManufacturingAt the Gainesville, Texas, plant that manufactures TPO and Polyiso, team members earned the area's first waste diversion certification for both products' waste streams. They also earned a recycled content certification for each.The plant established a trial program with a plastics recycler to reprocess TPO skin material for reuse in manufacturing new material. Recycling and reusing would divert thousands of tons of waste from landfills and use recycled materials in manufacturing flexible TPO for flashings.The plant also developed a program with a local recycling company that serves as a single source to take its pallets, large cardboard boxes, facers, paper, and plastics.Sustainability All-StarsRecycling and manufacturing sustainability programs wouldn't be possible without the people behind the initiatives. GAF is proud to spotlight these individuals who went above and beyond to meet the company's sustainability goals.Ben AnselmanAs part of the Mt. Vernon team, Anselman was critical to starting the plant's core recycling program. He initiated repairs to an existing baler and established a program for recycling the super sacks. His creativity sparked the partnership with the local golf course to divert aggregate waste from landfills. In addition, he was the champion for the shingle recycling outlet project and repurposed an existing compactor to reinstate a cardboard recycling initiative.Christina Talladira and Amy WilsonThese teammates lead the core recycling program at the Tampa, Florida, manufacturing plant. They worked together to establish aggregate and shingle recycling programs with their local recycling company. Talladira and Wilson consistently look for ways to divert waste streams from landfills. 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This effort will divert thousands of tons of waste from landfills and use recycled materials to manufacture flexible TPO for flashings.Leslie PeelsAfter the plant in Cumming, Georgia, saw a drop in its year-over-year waste diversion rate, Peels stepped in to turn those numbers around. Leading the effort to separate recyclable materials from regular waste, the Cumming location saw an impressive increase in keeping waste out of the landfill. Peels also set an example in data collection and analysis to keep the plant's sustainability goals on track.TJ Jenkins and Todd WinsteadJenkins and Winstead represent the TPO team at the Mt. Vernon manufacturing plant. Working together, they used their knowledge and experience in the TPO manufacturing process to help earn the plant's recycled content certifications. 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GAF solar House
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The GAF Energy system makes it easy to go solar and to contribute to change both globally and locally.If your roof requires a repair or replacement, visit the GAF Energy website to learn more about solar roofing or get a free estimate.*Contractors enrolled in GAF certification programs are not employees or agents of GAF, and GAF does not control or otherwise supervise these independent businesses. Contractors may receive benefits, such as loyalty rewards points and discounts on marketing tools from GAF for participating in the program and offering GAF enhanced warranties, which require the use of a minimum amount of GAF products.**Available for qualifying systems installed by GAF Master Elite® contractors only. See Golden Pledge Limited Warranty and Decotech® Addendum for complete coverage and restrictions. For installations not eligible for the Golden Pledge Limited Warranty and Decotech® Addendum, the Decotech® Limited Warranty applies. 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