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Sustainable Asphalt?

The National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) together with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) released a survey regarding the usage of reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP), recycled asphalt shingles (RAS), and warm-mix asphalt (WMA).

The National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recently partnered in a study regarding the use of reclaimed and recycled materials in asphalt pavements, as well as the use of warm-mix asphalt.

Findings conclude that use of these energy-saving technologies continues to gain acceptance across the country, saving U.S. taxpayers about $2.2 billion in 2011, as well as benefiting the environment.

During 2011 about 66.7 million tons of reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) and 1.2 million tons of reclaimed asphalt shingles (RAS) were collected in the United States use in new pavements. Also, about 19 percent of all asphalt produced in the country that year was made using warm-mix asphalt (WMA) technologies.

"Asphalt pavements are the sustainable option for paving our nations' roads and highways. With warm mix, we can use less energy to produce high-quality pavements, and RAP and RAS allow us reuse liquid asphalt, saving costs and preserving natural resources," said John Keating, NAPA 2013 Chairman and President and COO East of Oldcastle Materials Inc. "While use of these technologies has increased dramatically, there is room to do more, and the asphalt pavement industry is ready to reach even higher levels of sustainability in road construction."

The use of RAP and RAS during the 2011 paving season translates to a saving of 21.2 million barrels of liquid asphalt binder, saving taxpayers some $2.2 billion. When reclaimed asphalt pavement and shingles are reprocessed into new pavement mixtures, the liquid asphalt binder in the recycled material is reactivated, reducing the need for virgin asphalt binder.

Using reclaimed materials also reduces demands on aggregate resources. Warm-mix asphalt technologies allow asphalt pavements to be produced at lower temperatures, which mean reduced energy demands, as well as fewer emissions during production and paving.

"The asphalt pavement industry has a long history of adapting new technologies and innovations to make a better product," said NAPA President Mike Acott. "This survey reflects that and demonstrates how asphalt producers are at the forefront of ensuring that our roads are built in an economical and sustainable manner."

Compared to a previous survey of the 2009 and 2010 construction seasons, the use of these sustainable practices has continued to increase. In 2011, RAP usage reached 66.7 million tons, a 7 percent increase from 2010 and a 19 percent increase from 2009. More than 99 percent of asphalt pavement reclaimed from roads went back into new pavements. In the survey, 98 percent of producers reported using RAP in their mixes for new construction, pavement preservation, rehabilitation, and other projects.

RAS usage also continued to climb, increasing to 1.2 million tons in 2011, an 8 percent increase over 2010, and a 52.5 percent increase since 2009. Since 2009, RAS usage has been reported in 36 states. RAS includes both manufacturers' scrap shingles and post-consumer roofing shingles.

In 2010, FHWA made warm-mix asphalt part of its Every Day Counts initiative to speed the deployment of technologies that can improve highway projects' quality, sustainability, and safety. In 2011, total WMA tonnage in the U.S. was estimated at about 69 million tons, a 67 percent increase from 2010 and a nearly 309 percent increase since 2009. Almost all WMA in the U.S. was produced using a foaming process, which injects a small amount of water into the mix; warm-mix additive technologies accounted for a little more than 4 percent of the market.

"Warm mix brings with it so many benefits--reduced energy usage, better compaction in a wider range of temperatures, and more pleasant working conditions. It is fantastic to see how quickly it's been adopted in such a short period of time," Acott said. WMA was first demonstrated in the United States in 2004.

The survey was conducted in mid-2012. Results from 203 companies with 1,091 plants in 49 states and Puerto Rico, along with data from 32 State Asphalt Pavement Associations, were used to calculate industry estimates for total tonnage. A slight variation from the previously reported 2010 results is due to changes in survey design to ensure greater accuracy.

To view a copy of the full survey, including a state by-state breakdown of the data click here.

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November 19, 2019, 10:25 pm PDT

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