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Survey: Recycling, Energy-Saving Tech for Asphalt Pavements Increasingly Adopted Nationwide

About 66.7 million tons of reclaimed asphalt pavement and 1.2 million tons of reclaimed asphalt shingles were collected in the United States during 2011 for use in new pavements, according to a survey conducted by the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

The use of these practices is increasing. In 2011, recycled asphalt pavement (RAP) usage reached 66.7 million tons, a 7 percent increase from 2010 and a 19 percent increase from 2009. More than 99 percent of asphalt pavement reclaimed from roads went back into new pavements. In the survey, 98 percent of producers reported using RAP in their mixes for new construction, pavement preservation, rehabilitation, and other projects.

The increasingly broad adoption of sustainable construction practices saved taxpayers more than $2.2 billion dollars during the 2011 paving season through the use of recycled materials and energy-saving warm-mix technologies, according to the survey. About 19 percent of all asphalt produced in the country that year was made using warm-mix asphalt technologies.

Warm-mix technologies allow the asphalt pavement industry to use less energy to produce high-quality pavements, while the use of reclaimed asphalt shingles (RAS) and reclaimed asphalt pavement saves costs and preserves natural resources, according to the National Asphalt Pavement Association.

The use of RAP and RAS during the 2011 paving season translates to a saving of 21.2 million barrels of liquid asphalt binder. When reclaimed asphalt pavement and shingles are reprocessed into new pavement mixtures, the liquid asphalt binder in the recycled material is reactivated, reducing the need for virgin asphalt binder. Using reclaimed materials also reduces demands on aggregate resources. Warm-mix asphalt technologies allow asphalt pavements to be produced at lower temperatures, which means reduced energy demands, as well as fewer emissions during production and paving.

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