Single-use asphalt shingles are the fourth-largest category of construction waste according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Northeast Recycling Council. They are also used in about two-thirds of houses built across North America – 84 per cent of homes are roofed with asphalt shingles every year in the U.S. alone.
The $2-billion-plus North American market possesses limited processing alternatives, which leads to large amounts of waste. Vancouver-based Northstar, however, developed an environmentally-friendly proprietary process to break down and recover the components of single-use asphalt products, so it can resell them.
Northstar’s proprietary design process takes the discarded asphalt shingles and extracts the liquid asphalt, aggregate sands and fibre to use in new hot-mix asphalt, construction products and other industrial applications.
For every ton of asphalt shingles the company repurposes at its Delta, B.C., facility (in Metro Vancouver), it says 50 tons of carbon are saved from entering the environment.
A third-party independent lab provided preliminary testing of the liquid asphalt produced by the company to ensure its quality and penetration rate are acceptable for resale.
“While these commissioning runs are not full-scale production, we are very pleased with the results,” said Aidan Mills, the newly appointed CEO of Northstar, in a release. “The preliminary testing demonstrates that the quality and specifications of the repurposed liquid asphalt is well within the acceptable range for sale to customers.
“We look forward to incrementally increasing throughput in batch runs to continue optimizing the plant in preparation for steady state production.”
Northstar aims for leadership in industry
In Vancouver alone, 67 per cent of 480,000 single-family dwellings or row house units use asphalt shingles and 7 per cent of roofs are replaced every year, leading to 112,000 tons of waste.
Northstar already has an agreement with a multi-national construction materials company for 100 per cent of the liquid asphalt recovered from the Empower Facility. The plant is fully constructed, with commercial production expected by the end of 2021.
The company also has plans to expand in the U.S.
“Our mission is to be the leading asphalt shingle material recovery provider in North America, extracting 99 per cent of the recovered components from single-use asphalt shingles that would otherwise be sent to the landfill,” said Mills in a release. “We expect our clean technology solution to have a significant impact on the environment by reducing landfill usage, while also meeting the robust market demand for our products and anticipate this well help us generate long-term returns for our stakeholders.”
Northstar recently completed a $12.24 million financing and subsequent listing on the TSX Venture Exchange in July.
The company is led by a team with a combined 280 years of operational and capital markets experience. Along with hiring Mills in July, the company also enlisted the services of public relations company Wellington Dupont Public Affairs to lead government engagement on the reduction of single-use asphalt shingle disposal into landfills across Canada.
The Empower Facility is located in Metro Vancouver, which is considered a “green-friendly” jurisdiction. Like Northstar, Vancouver is aiming to be an environmental leader, specifically the greenest city in the world. Companies like Empower are helping the city to achieve this goal while reducing North America’s contribution to landfills at the same time.
By preventing asphalt shingles from entering landfills and reducing the use of virgin materials, Northstar contributes to a reduction in overall energy consumption in the asphalt shingle manufacturing process while providing the construction industry with clean, sustainable processing solutions.