Asphalt Shingles’ Impact on the Environment

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), asphalt shingles, which are commonly used for roofing, are one of the largest contributors to construction and demolition (C&D) debris in landfills, accounting for an estimated 11 million tons or more per year in the United States alone. Asphalt shingles can take a long time to disintegrate in a landfill, taking anywhere from 300 to 500 years to decompose.

One reason for this is that landfills are designed to limit the amount of air, moisture, and sunlight that reaches the waste inside, which slows down the decomposition process. Additionally, asphalt shingles are made from petroleum-based materials, which are not biodegradable and can persist in the environment for a long time.

When asphalt shingles disintegrate in landfills, they release various substances and chemicals that can potentially harm the environment. As the shingles break down, they can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as benzene, which can contribute to air pollution and can be harmful to human health.

Asphalt shingles can also release heavy metals, such as lead and cadmium, which can contaminate soil and water sources if they are not properly contained. This can have negative effects on wildlife and aquatic ecosystems, as well as on human health if the contaminated water is used for drinking or other purposes.

In addition, asphalt shingles take up a significant amount of space in landfills and can contribute to the formation of methane gas, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

Consequentially, it’s important to reduce the amount of asphalt shingles that end up in landfills and to explore alternative options — such as using the Cericade Fortification System to repair and strengthen your roof, rather than replacing your roof — to minimize their impact on the environment.