Asphalt – a circular material
The reuse of asphalt is one area where the bitumen and asphalt industries contribute to a more sustainable utilisation of our natural resources.
Asphalt is 100 % reusable! There are many positive sustainability effects from increasing the circularity of asphalt roads. When incorporating greater proportions of reclaimed asphalt, we save on virgin raw materials such as bitumen and aggregates, some of which might have to be transported over long distances. This in turn has the potential to save on emissions from transportation.
The proportion of available reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) that is reused rather than put into landfill is therefore on the increase everywhere. The way to extract the most value from reclaimed asphalt pavement is to use it in the bound layers in the road. When using it in the unbound layers, as merely a replacement for aggregate, the performance and financial value of the bitumen in RAP is not captured at all.
If we take a look at the statistics published by the European Asphalt Pavement Association (EAPA), it is clear that the trend is heading in the right direction. From 2001 to 2018, the average proportion of available RAP being reused in hot- or warm mix asphalt has increased from about 25 % to about 60 %. But it is also clear that there are major variations between countries as the statistics for 2018 show that this number varied from 12 to 100 %. In most European countries, no RAP is put into landfill and as a whole, asphalt is one of the construction materials that is already meeting EU’s long-term objective that 70% of all construction and demolition material should be reused or recovered.
Nynas supports the increased reuse of asphalt in different ways, from participating in scientific studies to supplying products that allow for increased use of RAP while maintaining the performance of the asphalt mix.