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Pavement Firms Raising Sustainability Bar
Asphalt Material is 99 Percent Recyclable

Asphalt pavement producers are incorporating reclaimed asphalt pavement and recycled asphalt shingles into more and more of their pavement projects, a trade organization found in a recent survey.

Asphalt pavement companies have become a big part of the movement toward environmental consciousness and sustainability.

The National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) said asphalt pavement producers increased their tonnage-use of recyclable and reclaimed materials by 6 percent from 2013-2014. This hike is significantly greater than their tonnage-use of new or non-recycled materials during the same time frame.

More than 75 million tons of recycled items were incorporated into asphalt pavement mixtures during the 2014 construction season, NAPA found in a survey of pavement firms.

These recyclables came mainly from old roads and parking lots and used asphalt roof shingles.

Nearly 72 million tons of reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) and 1.9 million tons of recycled asphalt shingles (RAS) went into asphalt pavement mixes in the nation during 2014, NAPA said. This resulted in an estimated savings of $2.8 billion, compared to the use of non-recycled asphalt aggregates.

"This helps keep asphalt pavement mixture costs competitive, and allows road owners to achieve more roadway maintenance and construction activities with limited budgets," NAPA said.

"Asphalt pavements are inherently sustainable, because when we pave a road, we are putting in place material that can later be harvested for reuse in new pavements," said Michael Cote, 2015 NAPA chairman and executive vice president of Lane Construction Corp.

"No other material is recycled at a greater rate than asphalt pavements," Cote said. "Well over 99 percent of material removed in maintenance or repair activities is put back to use in new pavements."

But producers' recycling efforts aren't limited to used pavement and shingles. They are increasingly turning to ground tire rubber, steel, blast furnace slags and other waste material in their asphalt pavement jobs.

"Although national estimates of usage were not calculated, survey respondents reported using nearly 1.3 million tons of these materials in 2014 in the production of more than 8 million tons of asphalt pavement mixes," NAPA said.

Asphalt producers are also enhancing their sustainability resumes by turning to a relatively new arena called warm mix.

"Warm-mix asphalt technologies allow the producers of asphalt pavement material to lower the temperatures at which the material is mixed and placed on the road," according to the website

"Reductions of 50-to-100 degrees Fahrenheit have been documented," the website says. "Such drastic reductions have the obvious benefits of cutting fuel consumption and decreasing the production of greenhouse gases. In addition, engineering benefits include better compaction on the road, the ability to haul paving mix longer distances, and extending the paving season by being able to pave at lower temperatures."

In 2014, 113.8 million tons of warm mix asphalt was produced, the NAPA said. This represents about a third of all asphalt pavement mix production, as well as an increase of more than 577 percent in the use of warm mix since 2009, the first year of the NAPA's survey.

"In 15 states, more than half of all asphalt pavement mixtures were produced as warm mix asphalt, and in six of them, more than 75 percent was produced as warm mix," said Mike Acott, NAPA president. "This is an incredible rate of adoption for a technology introduced just a decade ago."

NAPA's survey was conducted in mid-2015. Results from 228 companies with 1,185 plants in all 50 states, along with data from State Asphalt Pavement Associations for 35 states, were used to compile the report.

Source: National Association of Pavement Producers
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October 23, 2019, 10:07 pm PDT

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