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  • Ashlyn Halstead

One of America's Most Recycled Materials - Asphalt

November 15th is National Recycling Day. When you think to yourself, “What is the most recycled material in America?", I bet glass, paper, aluminum, and plastic probably comes to mind. All of these are true! However, according to studies done by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) asphalt pavement is also considered one of America’s #1 recycled products.

What is Recycled Asphalt?

Recycled asphalt, or reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP), is reprocessed pavement containing asphalt and aggregates. The United States Federal Highway Association (FHA) notes these underlying materials are created when asphalt pavements are removed for various activities, including:

  • Reconstruction

  • Resurfacing

  • Gaining access to buried utilities

When properly processed, RAP contains high quality and well-graded materials that produces similar to – if not better than – virgin asphalt.

Interestingly, industry experts estimate that the US produces roughly 45 million tons of RAP every year. As the US relies on recycled asphalt or RAP, how does the industry produce so much?

Simple, and just as the name implies – recycling old asphalt. The Purdue University School of Engineering outlines the main composite sources of RAP:

  • Chunks and slabs from full-depth pavement removal

  • Plant cleanout

  • Reject material or excess returned from jobs

  • Excavation

The Main Uses of Recycled Asphalt

Recycled asphalt replaces the need for virgin (or new) asphalt in any project or roadway. RAP can be used in virtually any mix such as Hot Mix Asphalt, Cold Mix Asphalt or it can act as a concrete aggregate supplement.

CCAP Mix being poured in Morgan Co. Read more about that story here:

What are the Benefits of Recycled Asphalt?

The typical asphalt mix contains 95% aggregate mix and 5% binder. However, according to research produced by Purdue University, the binder accounts for roughly 70% of the overall costs. Furthermore, leveraging recycled asphalt helps reduce significant energy demands, along with overall costs. For example, recycling asphalt means fewer expenses quarrying more aggregate materials. And reducing the quarry need means less energy and costs in production, processing and transporting the aggregate materials. As a result, the leveraging recycled asphalt provides significant cost and environmental benefits.

In addition to the significant environmental benefits, recycled asphalt also provides tremendous cost savings for contractors and local governments. First, recycled asphalt requires a much lower initial cost. This factor remains a major driver for contractors or towns sticking to a budget.

For example, according savings range from $30 to $80 a ton by leveraging reclaimed asphalt. Plus, as technology advances, more and more asphalt is capable of turning into RAP.

How Does Reclaimed Asphalt Usage Remain Successful?

Demonstrating the current success and positive impact provides a pathway to continued reclaimed asphalt usage. For example, the FHA outlines three primary requirements to showcase the success of recycled asphalt:

  1. Remain cost effective

  2. Provide environmental and sustainable impact

  3. Perform well

In order to demonstrate the effectiveness of reclaimed asphalt, the National Asphalt Paving Association (NAPA) partnered with the FHA with the goal of quantifying the impact of RAP.

As we reflect this National Recycling Day, we are truly proud to be a company that uses and advances the world’s most recycled product. We look forward to learning more about asphalt materials, and how we can continue to make sustainable solutions for our plant.


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