Asphalt roof shingles: What makes them less eco friendly

When it comes to roofing materials, asphalt roof shingles have always been a very popular choice for people of different countries for their durability and affordability. They are especially best suited for countries with colder climate. But, there are debates on whether this vastly popular roofing option is actually environmentally sound or not.

Asphalt roof shingles

What are asphalt roof shingles?

Before the development and use of asphalt roof shingles, the most popular roofing shingle was made of asbestos. However, they were extremely toxic and consequently bad for health. Despite their durability, the health related issues led to the abolition of its usage. Eventually, asphalt roof shingles were developed and used as its substitute. There are basically two types of asphalt roofing shingles- fiberglass and organic. For the fiberglass type, fiberglass mat is used instead of a paper one. The mats are porous which requires less asphalt and thus makes the shingles lighter. Also, even though they may get old and lose, they still lie flat. The organic variety of asphalt shingle uses paper mat. They become brittle with age and curl up as well, which make them a less popular option for the durability issue.

Reasons for their popularity:

1. On an average, asphalt roof shingles last for a minimum of 15 years.

2. The process of installation is very easy and can be done easily by anyone. In fact, the process is quite fast as well.

3. They are also available in the fungus-resistant variety which reduces the problem of roof fungus.

4. It is not high in maintenance.

5. It is extremely affordable.

6. They are easily available.

Why are they less eco-friendly options?

The main reason for the roof shingles to be labeled as a less eco-friendly option is that they can be hard to dispose of. They can be hardly recycled, so most often they end up as plain rubbish in landfills. The difficulty in the disposal of the old asphalt shingles makes them very harmful to the environment. In contrast to that, there are other more eco-friendly options which often make this choice of shingle an obsolete one.

Other alternatives:

Metal roofs: Not only are metal roofs more durable than asphalt ones, they are fire resistant as well. They do not need any maintenance as they do not rot, rust and there is no need to clean them. They are light in weight and feature recycled materials. In fact, on their replacement, the materials are most often recycled as well.

Living roof: This type is fast becoming popular amongst the environmentally conscious. This involves installing a roof that has a layer of soil. This soil is covered by living plants. These roofs not only process carbon dioxide and release oxygen, but provide enhanced insulation as well. Living roofs can be divided into two types- extensive and intensive. The former type feature grasses and herbs and are consequently quite light. On the other hand, intensive ones feature species of shrubs, plants and even trees and hence quite heavy.

Solar roofs: They are one of the most beneficial types of roofing alternative as they can provide electricity and heat to your home. The cost of installation may be high but ultimately the money invested becomes equal to the money saved from the decreased cost of electricity.

Ceramic tiles and cedar shake roofs are other alternatives.

How to transform asphalt roof shingles into more eco-friendly options

Despite the other various eco-friendly options, there is no denying of the fact that asphalt roof shingles are here to stay due to the galore of benefits associated with it. They can be converted into a far more eco-friendly option. Just make sure that the manufacturer includes recycled materials in the shingles. Ask your supplier or roofer to take precautions against harming the environment. This makes sure that after its lifespan, the shingle can be disposed in a way that is environmentally conducive.


Asphalt roof shingles often come with warranties from the manufacturers. So any damages will be automatically covered. However, they might need regular inspections and maintenance. You should check gutters and clear them in case they are clogged. In case of any rust, they should be cleaned, primed and painted. Check regularly for cracking and any other weather damage. As long as some guidelines are followed, asphalt roof shingles can be a great option for any kind of home.

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