There’s no denying that most of America’s roadworks and highways today consist of some form of asphalt concrete, and will continue to do so for many more years. However, recent construction innovations now make it possible for non-biodegradable asphalt to be recycled. Upon calculating the country’s roadworks expenses for 2011, the government saved approximately $2 billion of taxpayer money by incorporating reclaimed asphalt into those projects.
Specifically, about a million tons of reclaimed asphalt shingles (RAS) and 66 million tons of reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) from old roads and torn-down roofs were used in 2011’s road construction season. Working with RAS and RAP require less energy, and the two materials are also good sources of liquid asphalt by themselves. Additionally, RAS and RAP don’t require asphalt binders, thus saving the government about 21 million barrels of the substance.
Recycled asphalt may soon be used for building parking lots and other pavements. By incorporating so-called “warm-mix” technologies during construction work, harmful emissions like carbon monoxide can also be reduced. This trend of using recycled materials is expected to continue in 2013, now that plastic composites and other reclaimed materials (i.e. concrete) are now enjoying widespread use in major cities like New York and Pittsburgh.