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.

Projects

Sokndal, Norway

The recently opened Motorcenter Norway offers everything from go-carting to drag racing. Nynas was involved in the project by supplying Nypol HF 105, a polymer-modified bitumen ideal for pavements that are subjected to high stresses.

Projects

Gothenburg, Sweden

The Älvsborg Bridge spans the estuary of the Göta Älv river at the entrance to Gothenburg and the biggest port in Scandinavia. The bridge, officially opened in 1966, has a total length of 930 m and a suspended span of 418 m. To guarantee the bridge's functionality and extend its useful life, extensive maintenance work has been under way since 2019, the third and final stage being completed this summer.

Talking point

Road infrastructure in North-Western Europe

Even though many successful road projects have been completed in Western Europe in recent years, the durability and availability of the road infrastructure needs to be improved.

Interview

Paving the way for asphalt 4.0

Digitalisation is making inroads in the asphalt industry. The latest Eurasphalt & Eurobitume (E&E) Congress was held virtually in June. It was a success, but the next E&E event will allow industry stakeholders to meet face-to-face.

Noted

All the key players are working together to achieve the best possible result.

Katri Eskola, Specialist Road Maintenance Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency

Talking point: The COVID-19 pandemic


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