Two hailstorms this spring affected more than 150,000 Rio Grande Valley homes, according to HailWATCH data cited in a McAllen Valley Roofing news release.
Based on the weather data provider’s figures, the roofing company estimated the storms inflicted $1.2 billion in damage across the Valley.
That means a lot of insurance claims for a lot of new roofs — and plenty of old roofing to be disposed of.
“On average, a house in the Valley can have about 3 tons of shingles — 150,000 shingles that need to be thrown away,” said Brian McSteen, manager of McAllen Valley Roofing. “We need a place where we can properly dispose of the old shingles to prevent so much waste.
“The solution is to recycle the shingles.”
Most, if not all, of the shingles discarded from Valley household roofs are petroleum-based asphalt shingles, McSteen said.
Asphalt shingles are slow to biodegrade in landfills and leave a large carbon footprint in their production and decomposition, according to research conducted by ShingleRecycing.org.
The shingles are considered construction materials by the landfill in Edinburg.
“The Edinburg landfill is doing its part in properly disposing the discarded shingles. They get disposed of in an engineered lined cell with other construction materials,” said Ramiro Gomez, the director of the Solid Waste department in Edinburg. “There’s always the probability for (an environmental threat) but the cells are engineered facilities built to handle these materials long term and protect the environment.”
There has been an increase in the amount of construction materials coming in from construction companies since the first hailstorm, Gomez said.
“The city of Edinburg takes great care and sees itself as an environmental steward of the Valley,” Gomez said. “The city itself spends money to make sure that everything the Edinburg landfill takes in is disposed of properly in an environmentally sound method.”
RECYCLING THE SHINGLES
Brett Hannah, owner of Rhino Tuff Roofing in McAllen and other locations, has discovered what he considers a better solution to decrease the amount of shingles that go to the Edinburg landfill.
Rhino Tuff Roofing takes them to paving company Terra Firma Materials LLC, where they pay to have the shingles ground up and used as a material for pavements.
Terra Firma Materials participates in a program called Recycling Asphalt Shingles, or RAS, where discarded shingles are recycled to serve other purposes.
It’s less expensive for Rhino Tuff Roofing to take the shingles to Terra Firma Materials for grinding than it is for them to take the shingles to the Edinburg landfill.
It’s a difference of a few hundred dollars per load, Hannah said.
“We only pay about $100 a load of shingles at the paving company, versus taking it to the landfill where they charge us for the weight of our load,” Hannah said.
“It’s great that the shingles are actually going to be used, too, instead of just discarded at a landfill,” Hannah said.
Recycled asphalt shingles can be potentially used as hot-mix asphalt, dust control on rural roads, temporary roads or driveways, aggregate road base, new shingles, and fuel according to shinglerecycling.org.
The material produced by grinding asphalt shingles can be used for streets, pavement, and other ground materials.
“The flipside is that it’s not filling the landfill up,” Hannah said. “We really only heard about this because of word-of-mouth, so we got lucky.
“The shingles are actually being used for other purposes and it’s cheaper for us,” he said. “It’s a win-win situation.”
Not every roofing company is taking the initiative to recycle its shingles, though. This is why McSteen wants to start a campaign to have a single location where all local roofing companies can dump their discarded shingles and have them ground up to be re-used as street materials by McAllen.
“Our roofing company gets an average of about seven to 10 calls a day now, when before the storm, we’d get about three calls a day. This totals to a lot of discarded shingles,” McSteen said.
McSteen is trying to get word out of the idea to decrease the amount of discarded shingles at the landfill by requiring that all roofing companies recycle their discarded shingles.
“A lot of people here don’t understand that there are a lot of options for re-using old or used shingles,” McSteen said. “If we start now and try to organize something, it can benefit the city in the long run.”
Daniella Diaz is an intern reporter covering general assignments for The Monitor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (956) 683-4423.
Follow Daniella Diaz on Twitter: @daniellamicaela