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Waste commission approves return of shingle recycling program

“Any time you can create more recycling opportunities for clients of the waste commission, that’s a win. It’s nice to have a third party to deal with it. Even if it does cost a little more, it absolutely meets the environmental goals and absolutely makes the process easier from our perspective.”
Francis Cooke landfill 4
The Francis Cooke Regional Class III Landfill and Resource Recovery Centre in the Municipal District of Bighorn in June 2022. RMO FILE PHOTO

EXSHAW – A return of the asphalt shingle recycling program could see between 400-500 tonnes of shingles recycled as opposed to being buried in the landfill.

The Bow Valley Waste Management Commission approved $60,000 at its Thursday (April 20) meeting to be budgeted for 2023 to help with loading and shipping shingles to Calgary to be recycled.

Commission members pointed to the importance of having the program relaunched and diverting waste to be reused, particularly with its strategic goal of being a resource recovery centre, and staff noted, most importantly, the product will have a "viable end-use with genuine environmental benefit."

“Any time you can create more recycling opportunities for clients of the waste commission, that’s a win,” said commission chair and Banff council representative Grant Canning. “It’s nice to have a third party to deal with it. Even if it does cost a little more, it absolutely meets the environmental goals and absolutely makes the process easier from our perspective.”

A staff report estimated about 400 tonnes of shingles would be received this year in addition to the roughly 400-500 tonnes of shingles already at the landfill. If the program continues past this year, it’s estimated the program would cost about $30,000 annually.

The shingle recycling program was temporarily halted in 2022 due to a lack of options. However, negotiations began with a Calgary-based shingles processor Synchor Recycling.

Synchor uses recycled shingles for a product called RaZphalt – created in 2016 – which is largely used to resurface and pave commercial sites in Calgary and area. The product combines recycled shingles and recycled asphalt, with the high oil content of shingles binding together with the asphalt that helps shed water better than just recycled asphalt.

“Sometimes it’s better to outsource it and have somebody who specializes in the material and having them do the work,” said waste commission CAO Andrew Calder. “We tried the onsite option, but without the market and without the demand, and us not being able to make it as refined as they have, it justifies paying them a tipping fee and we’ll still manage to make it work so it’s less expensive than landfilling it.

“It ticks the economic box, the environmental box and operationally it should be easy enough to manage on-site.”

The intent of the program is to be cost-recovery, but it would also save money for people or companies dropping off shingles. The cost of landfill shingles is about $115 a tonne, while the tipping fee for recycling is $75 a tonne.

For this year, waste commission would slightly subsidize the cost; however, the tipping fee would be reviewed annually.

The intent would be to stockpile the shingles in a spot on-site and then have it hauled to Calgary once a quarter. It is similar to what is done for wood, metal and drywall, according to the report.

“You don’t want to downcycle. You want to add value to a product and create a resource of waste materials,” Calder said.

Though the program has been on pause for more than a year, staff at Francis Cooke Regional Landfill tried grinding shingles, but it led to litter issues, according to the report. It meant shingles were landfilled as opposed to recycled, but many were stockpiled if recycling options were made known.

Calder said the shingle recycling program had been running since he joined the commission in 2010 and believed it had been part of the commission since its early days of operating.

The decision will allow people dropping off shingles to do so specifically at a lower cost than the previous way of mixed waste.

 “Asphalt shingles are a small portion of the waste managed at the Francis Cooke facility," states the staff report. "However, with a practical recycling option for the material now back on the table, offering real environmental benefits alongside cost savings for customers, administration believe this program can be successfully restarted to the benefit of the region.”

Canning noted the program will ultimately lead to several hundred tonnes of waste not being buried and finding a use elsewhere.

“We’re not putting it in the ground and we have someone who can do something useful for it at the other end,” he said.