The Staggering Amount Of Recyclable Material That Ends Up In Landfills Every Year

Did you know that the United States throws away approximately five hundred billion pounds of recyclable materials every year? This is enough to fill approximately two-thousand landfills!

The amount of recyclable material that ends up in Indiana landfills is staggering. Every year, millions of tons of recyclable materials are sent to landfills instead of being recycled. In just the past two years, South Side Landfill in Indianapolis has accepted more than 30 million pounds of discarded asphalt shingles. This is a huge problem that needs to be addressed.

Asphalt shingles are one of the most popular roofing materials in the United States. It’s estimated that there are over 20 million tons of asphalt shingles disposed of in landfills every year. That’s enough to fill the Empire State Building nearly three times over!

There are many reasons why recyclable materials, especially roof shingles, end up in landfills. Some of these reasons are:

1) Improper sorting of materials by homeowners or businesses:

A large number of people do not know how to sort their recyclable items properly. Asphalt shingles are often thrown in with regular trash because they look similar to other pieces of construction debris. This can lead to a lot of waste being sent to landfills instead of being recycled.

2) Not enough recycling programs for certain materials in some areas of the country:

Many communities do not have recycling programs for asphalt shingles or other types of construction materials. In these areas, homeowners may feel that it’s easier just to throw them away than figure out where to take them. If you live in an area that does not have a recycling program, contact your local city officials and ask them if they can start one.

3) Lack of education about how to recycle properly:

The majority of people in the United States don’t know that they can recycle their roof shingles. Many homeowners think that they must throw them away because they are made of asphalt and can’t be recycled. This is not true! Asphalt shingles are 100% recyclable. They can be recycled into new products, such as asphalt mixtures.

4) Cost-prohibitive for many municipalities to have a recycling program:

So many cities and towns don’t have the infrastructure or resources to handle recycling programs. The average cost of setting up a recycling program is between $200 and $400 per ton of material collected. This includes the cost of collecting, sorting, processing, and transporting the materials. Many cities are not able to afford such high costs and therefore do not have a recycling program at all.

5) Lack of community involvement in recycling initiatives:

When communities don't have a strong recycling program in place, it makes it difficult for people to know what types of products can be recycled and where they can take them for recycling. This often leads to confusion about what goes where and even more waste ending up in landfills as people throw things away incorrectly or forget about their recycling options altogether.

What are the effects of recycling roofing shingles on our environment?

Recycling asphalt shingles saves energy and reduces pollution. In fact, recycling just one ton of asphalt shingles can save up to five hundred gallons of water and almost one hundred kilowatt hours of electricity.

Recycling also reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Manufacturing new asphalt shingles requires a significant amount of energy. Asphalt plants use approximately 50% more electricity than other types of plants to produce the same amount of material. The production process also produces a significant amount of greenhouse gases, including nitrous oxide (NO).

Recycling asphalt shingles also helps conserve natural resources such as sand, gravel, and limestone. Instead of mining these materials from the earth’s surface, which is both expensive and destructive to the environment, manufacturers can use recycled materials instead. This makes them more sustainable in every aspect!


Saving recyclable materials from landfills has been proven to have positive effects on our environment. Recycling metal roofing shingles alone can save up to 70% of the energy needed to create metal from scratch. If more people and businesses become aware of the importance of recycling, hopefully, we will be able to preserve our environment for generations to come.

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