Recycling continues to gain traction among contractors as a way to diversify business and secure profit potential. In today’s world, there are viable markets for recycled products ranging from asphalt to concrete to wood. The trick is to identify potential revenue streams and calculate the costs of the equipment and labor required to turn the waste stream into a sellable product. Contractors must carefully weigh the risk vs. rewards, and many have already proven that materials once headed to the landfill can actually be converted into profitable products that are more environmentally sensible.
CHARLES COPLEY ROOFING: Part of a Bigger Picture
For more than four decades, Charles Copley Roofing has been serving customers in the Crystal Lake, Illinois, area as a roofing contractor and materials supplier. Owner Charles Copley Sr.’s philosophy has always been to expand into new and different markets. The latest example of that growth strategy, a foray into shingle grinding and recycling using a Morbark 2600 Horizontal Grinder, is still in its formative stages. However, the company is already seeing a good deal of potential, an increased level of interest in the end product created and a future that promises further growth.
Nationwide, millions of tons of waste asphalt shingles are generated each year. As one of McHenry County’s larger roofing companies, Copley generates its share of that total — as well as other debris — from its own projects. For years, the company was forced to landfill the waste material at its own expense. According to Copley, doing so was not only costly, but it seemed counterproductive.
“There was a point that we were sending as many as five roll-offs per week to the landfill and paying roughly $400 per roll-off,” he says. “Although that was a large expense, at the time we had the luxury of utilizing a landfill about 10 minutes from our office. Today, allowing for traffic, a trip to the landfill is an hour and a half each way. That means we have a driver tied up for three hours; we are putting three hours of wear and tear on a truck; and we are burning three hours worth of fuel.”
Faced with these costs — and hounded by a sense that there had to be a better way — Copley decided to regroup and take matters into his own hands. He started with research into different ways to process the material he was collecting.
More than wood
“I looked at every possible grinder and shredder on the market,” he says. “I quickly learned that almost any material made today can be reduced in size — for a price. But I didn’t need a million-dollar machine that could reduce a car engine to scrap. I needed an affordable machine that could downsize wood and shingles, was easy to operate and wouldn’t have maintenance issues.”
Copley chose a Morbark 2600 Wood Hog that is designed for use with brush, yard waste and other mixed woody materials. Copley grinds all of the construction wood it gathers from its roll-off and roofing operations, colors it and makes the mulch available to both the general public and area landscaping firms. However, the grinder’s design lends itself for use with other materials, including asphalt shingles.
“The grinder has performed well for us with the shingle operation,” says Charles Copley Jr., the company’s general manager. “Since we started that part of the business, we have probably processed thousands of yards of shingles. We use a skid-steer loader to feed the grinder, which takes the material down to 1 ½-inch product. As the downsized material exits the machine, it is run past a magnet to remove any nails that may have made it past the initial hand-sorting.”
The primary ground material is fed into a rolloff box, then sent back for a second pass through the grinder, this time fitted with a ¾-inch screen needed to produce material in spec with Copley’s customer.