Green Asphalt Continues to Grow

For those of us in the asphalt industry, “green asphalt” technologies, such as warm mix asphalt (WMA), reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) and recycled asphalt shingles (RAS), are part of everyday life. Most asphalt contractors and producers have used these techniques and understand the benefits they bring to the table.

It seems state governments and agencies are also taking note and increasing the adoption of these sustainable technologies nationwide.

According to a survey conducted by the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), about 66.7 million tons of RAP and 1.2 million tons of RAS were collected in the United States during 2011 for use in new pavements. Also, about 19% of all asphalt produced in the country that year was made using WMA technologies.

That these technologies are gaining wider acceptance is not only great news for asphalt contractors and our environment, but also the bottom line. According to the survey, the use of RAP and RAS during the 2011 paving season translates to a savings of 21.2 million barrels of liquid asphalt binder, saving taxpayers some $2.2 billion.

Here's some more data from the survey:

  • In 2011, RAP usage reached 66.7 million tons, a 7% increase from 2010 and a 19% increase from 2009. More than 99% of asphalt pavement reclaimed from roads went back into new pavements.
  • 98% 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% increase over 2010, and a 52.5% increase since 2009.
  • Since 2009, RAS usage has been reported in 36 states.
  • In 2011, total WMA tonnage in the U.S. was estimated at about 69 million tons, a 67% increase from 2010 and a nearly 309% increase since 2009.
  • Almost all WMA in the U.S. was produced using a foaming process; warm mix additive technologies accounted for a little more than 4% of the market.

A copy of the full survey is available at asphaltpavement.org/recycling.

Of course, our industry has a long history of adapting new technologies and innovations to make a better product.

John Keating, NAPA 2013 chairman and president & COO East of Oldcastle Materials Inc., says, “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.” That we are.

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