Skip to content

Get The Latest News

Visualizing Waste: How Many Tons of Asphalt Shingles End Up in Landfills Annually?

Check out the articles below to get educated by the experts at Roof Shield.

Visualizing Waste: How Many Tons of Asphalt Shingles End Up in Landfills Annually?

Asphalt shingles are a cost-effective and durable roofing material and the go-to material for most homes in North America. They are easy to install, affordable, and come in various colors and styles, making them a good choice for most homes. However, with an average lifespan of 15-20 years for 3-tab shingles and 20-30 years for architectural shingles, shingle replacement is high volume annually, with more than 80 percent of homes opting for asphalt shingles.

And that replacement comes at a cost, not just to the homeowner but to the environment as well. With over 13 million tons of asphalt shingles ending up in landfills annually.

Negative Effects of Asphalt Shingles in Landfills
  1. Space consumption: Asphalt shingles are bulky and take up a significant amount of space in landfills. As landfills become increasingly full, finding new locations for waste disposal becomes more difficult and expensive.
  2. Slow decomposition: Asphalt shingles are made from a mix of materials, including organic fibers, minerals, and petroleum-based asphalt. These components make them decompose slowly and can remain in landfills for decades or centuries.
  3. Leachate contamination: As rainwater passes through landfills, it can pick up harmful chemicals from decomposing asphalt shingles. This polluted water, known as leachate, can contaminate nearby soil and groundwater, posing risks to ecosystems and human health.
  4. Greenhouse gas emissions: The decomposition of organic materials in landfills, including the fibers in asphalt shingles, generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Methane emissions from landfills contribute to climate change and can exacerbate its effects.
  5. Resource waste: The disposal of asphalt shingles in landfills represents a lost opportunity to recycle or repurpose the valuable materials they contain.
  6. Public health risks: The chemicals found in asphalt shingles, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), pose health risks to those living near landfills, particularly if the landfill is not properly managed or maintained.
  7. Wildlife impacts: Landfills attract scavengers and other wildlife, exposing them to harmful chemicals from asphalt shingles or becoming trapped in landfill debris.
The moving of shingle mountain in Texas that was suspected of poisoning the residents nearby.
The moving of shingle mountain in Texas. A 70,000 ton behemoth suspected of poisoning the residents nearby.
Photo Courtesy: Spectrum News 1
Visualizing 13 Million Tons of Asphalt Shingles

Now that you know the damage throwing asphalt shingles in the landfill cause, let’s wrap our heads around what 13 million tons of shingles looks like.

The weight of asphalt shingles can vary depending on their type and thickness, but let’s consider a common weight for a 3-tab shingle, which is around 65-80 lbs. per square. (A square is 100 square feet) For this example, let’s assume an average weight of 72.5 lbs. per square.

  • 1 square = 72.5 lbs.
  • 1 ton = 2000 lbs.

Now, let’s find out how many squares are in 13 million tons:

  • 13,000,000 tons x 2000 lbs. = 26,000,000,000 lbs.
  • 26,000,000,000 lbs. / 72.5 lbs. = 358,620,689 squares in 13 million tons of shingle waste

Finally, how many individual shingles? Using 300 shingles per square.

358,620,689 squares x 300 shingles per = 107,586,206,700 shingles

Examples of 107.6 Billion Shingles

We’ve calculated that 107.6 billion asphalt shingles end up in local landfills annually in the United States alone. What exactly does that look like? Here are a few examples to put the waste in perspective.

Stacking the shingles on top of each other and assuming a thickness of .125 inches, the stack would reach 1,120,833,333 feet or:

  • 1,431,193 times the height of the Eiffel Tower
  • 89 times the Earth’s diameter

Layed length-wise with a 36-inch wide shingle is 322,800,000,000 feet or:

  • 2,454 times the circumference of the Earth
  • Go to the Moon and back 256 times.
Keeping Asphalt Shingles Out of Local Landfills: Recycling

The above examples are a fun thought exercise. But the reality is that there are very large quantities of asphalt shingles dumped into landfills daily. Recycling is one way to reduce the impact of these discarded shingles, and there are claims that up to 10 percent of shingles are recycled. Speak to any roofer, though, and you will quickly get the impression that that statistic may be a little ambitious.

Manufacturers such as GAF and Owens Corning are stepping up efforts to educate roofing contractors and homeowners on recycling and also investing in recycling programs to make shingle recycling more accessible.

What can be done right now?

Asphalt shingle rejuvenation and reconditioning from Roof Shield is available today and can effectively double the lifespan of the roof. With proper maintenance through our ‘Clean Restore Protect’ program, a 15-year shingle can last 30 years, more than halving its environmental impact. Simple as that, our rejuvenation named Roof Reboot will bring the performance of the shingles back to new at a fraction of the cost of replacement.

In short, the roofing industry generates a tremendous amount of landfill waste in the United States annually. Rejuvenation can take the place of replacement and drastically reduce the amount of waste that ends up in our landfills.

Are you a roofer, soft washer, or entrepreneur looking to enter the fast-growing asphalt shingle rejuvenation market? Roof Shield sells to and trains applicators to service homeowners nationwide. Contact Roof Shield today.

To stay in touch with Roof Shield and always see our latest posts, like and subscribe to our:

Trust Roof Shield to rejuvenate and protect your roof
(855) 476 6374

Request a Quote

Just fill out this short form with some of your information to help Roof Shield create a personalized quote for your roof.