Can Asphalt Pavement Be Recycled? Go Green
With global climate change in the media every day, green building practices and green construction are in high demand. This practice weaves into all aspects of building and construction, from residential to commercial spaces, and even landscaping and paving.
When you think of recyclable materials, you probably think of plastic, cardboard, or glass. However, asphalt pavement is America’s most recycled material. Each year, about 80 million tons of asphalt is recycled. A report from the Federal Highway Administration showed that 81 percent of asphalt that was removed from road projects every year was recycled.
Asphalt paving is considered a green technology and environmentally friendly. It is effortless to turn back into the aggregate that is needed to create new asphalt while maintaining the same high quality as the original material.
What Is Asphalt?
Asphalt is a composite material made up of mineral aggregates and bitumen commonly used for a variety of surfaces including roads, driveways, airport runways, race tracks, and playgrounds.
There are actually two primary ingredients in asphalt. The first is a mix of crushed stone, gravel, and sand.
Aggregates make up about 95% of hot mix asphalt pavement, while the other 5% is bitumen. Bitumen is the black or dark viscous material that holds the aggregates together and is composed of polycyclic hydrocarbons (a petroleum byproduct).
Asphalt is one of the most popular paving materials available on the market. Depending on the nature of the project, different types of asphalt can be used.
Types of Asphalt
There are actually several different types of asphalt, and they are categorized by the process used to bind aggregate with the bitumen.
- Hot Mix Asphalt – is produced under high heat to reduce its viscosity. This type of asphalt is considered the most durable one, and it the most commonly used type of asphalt in the United States.
- Warm Mix Asphalt – it is produced under temperatures ranging only between 200 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Instead, emulsions, waxes, and zeolites are added to the binder and aggregates. It does not offer the same level of durability as hot mix asphalt concrete, but it is safer for the environment and workers. It is primarily used for low traffic areas or patching.
- Mastic Asphalt – it contains less bitumen content than hot mix asphalt, and it is mostly used for roads, footpaths, play courts, and roofing.
Regardless of its type, all asphalt types can be recycled.
Why Should We Recycle Asphalt?
We all know that using recycled materials is a crucial way to do our part for the environment. The massive, petroleum-based material takes up a lot of space in landfills and doesn’t biodegrade. Just by recycling pavement, we can save millions of tons of landfill money and space from benefiting the earth better. Also, in comparison to producing asphalt materials, recycling asphalt reduces the consumption of resources such as fuel, machinery, transportation, and labor.
Not only recycled asphalt is better for the environment, but it even seems to be stronger and more durable than the new pavement. This means that roads built with recycled asphalt are safer and longer-lasting.
Using recycled asphalt pavement saves the taxpayers in the U.S. between $1.8 and $2.5 billion annually. Recycled asphalt is cheaper to produce than new asphalt, making the refurbishing of damaged roads more affordable for the taxpayers.
At Limitless, we care about not only the level of professionalism in the work that we do but also our effect on the environment.