When Peter Horch established his roofing company more than five years ago, he would drive his pickup truck full of roof waste to the Camden dump and drive down hill into the landfill to unload it by hand. As time went by and his business grew, he stopped making those trips himself.

Then last fall he had to fill in for an employee, and he was stunned by what he saw, according to a news release. The same hole at the landfill that he’d driven down into five years earlier had become a huge mountain that he now had to drive up onto to deposit his roofing debris.

“I realized that I was driving up over my own debris – debris that I’ve pulled from peoples’ roofs,” said Horch, in the release. “That mountain is never going to go away. It will be there until my great grandchildren are living here. And I thought, ‘I just don’t want to do it anymore.'”

While that realization stayed with him, it wasn’t until he attended the Juice Conference in Camden in November 2009 that an idea really began to form.

“The conference was about being creative and innovative,” Horch said. “So I asked myself what I could do different. We already offer every type of roofing, so I thought I could do something different with our debris.”

“Each year Maine produces more than 100,000 tons of re-roofing waste that ends up in landfills,” he said. “We realized that our company alone was generating approximately two tons of waste each day, accounting for more than one million pounds a year. We wanted to do something about our share.”

Beginning April 1 of this year, Horch Roofing began recycling 100 percent of its roofing waste, the release said. The company also discovered that there is both an interest and a need among their clientele, which ranges from small residential property owners to large commercial concerns. The company has heard from one property owner who doesn’t want to burn the asphalt from a barn demolition, because of concerns for the environment.

Recycling has become part of the culture at Horch Roofing, and the company’s Warren location, a holding pit temporarily houses the re-roofing debris until it can be transported by Doug Fales Selective Cutting, another local contractor, to CPRC Group, a company in Scarborough that converts waste into recycled products.

John Adelman, CEO of CPRC Group, said in the release that the roofing debris is first “source separated.” During this process, a large magnet is used to separate the metal nails from the asphalt shingles. The nails are cleaned and sent to the metal market. The shingles are ground and combined with other recycled products to become a recycled aggregate that can be used on roads and parking lots in a way similar to crushed gravel.

Horch Roofing is now a regular participant in CPRC Group’s ton-to-ton exchange program. For every ton of roofing debris turned in, the company receives back one ton of the reclaimed material in the form of crushed and recycled aggregate, also known as C&R. Horch put the C&R to use in the company’s driveway and parking lot, and reported that it has prevented a muddy spring driveway and cut down on the rain runoff that he typically sees.

Horch said his company is committed to continue recycling all re-roofing material as part of its standard operating procedure.

“The pure volume and tonnage of material that we now recycle and reuse instead of adding to the local landfill, or ‘landhill,’ makes this a win-win situation for both my company and community,” he said. “I sincerely hope that other local construction and roofing contractors are motivated to follow in our footsteps to make every day Earth Day.”

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