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What are the Benefits of Recycled Asphalt? Fort Lauderdale, Florida

What are the Benefits of Recycled Asphalt?

This photo shows a milling machine removing asphalt from existing I-85 to prepare for the grading necessary to build the new lanes of I-85. The asphalt is being recycled at an asphalt plant and reused in new asphalt mix.

Recycling asphalt involves removing it from its original location and converting it on-site or at a plant for further preparation. This process has several benefits, including environmental preservation, enhanced durability of the top layer, and cost reduction. By using recycled asphalt in construction projects, you can take advantage of its infinite recyclability and qualify for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification while also benefiting from a more robust and longer-lasting surface. This article will explore the benefits and uses of recycled asphalt.

Definition of Recycled Asphalt

Recycled asphalt, also known as recycled asphalt pavement (RAP), refers to asphalt that has been removed from a roadway, cleaned, refreshed with new binding agents, and then laid back down. This process has been used for nearly 50 years and involves two commonly used recycling methods.

The most common use for recycled asphalt is in roadways. Still, you can also use it to resurface tennis courts, airport runways, parking lots, and other areas with an asphalt surface.

RAP is one of the most recycled materials across the globe. The materials used in its manufacture are almost infinitely reusable, and its performance is the same regardless of how often the aggregates have been lifted and recycled.

Asphalt recycling is estimated to save billions of taxpayer dollars annually. About 90 million tons of asphalt are reclaimed yearly, and approximately 80% of these are recycled. The remaining 20% of the recycled mix is made up of virgin materials.

The Environmental Benefits of Using Recycled Asphalt

Recycled asphalt has multiple environmental benefits, including ones that reach beyond roadways and paved lots. The stone used to make asphalt is known as aggregate, and a byproduct of gasoline production is its binding agent. You must draw these components from the ground via mining or quarrying, then process them to create the final product.

Recycling asphalt reduces the need to obtain fresh materials for the mixture. This reduces the overall cost of replacing asphalt. It also reduces the time spent collecting, processing, and manufacturing the final product.

Asphalt recycling does require the use of fresh materials drawn from resources. However, asphalt roofing shingles can also serve as a source of new material. The manufacture of asphalt shingles uses the same materials as roadway asphalt. Using old shingles removed from roofs during the recycling process can minimize the amount of fresh material required for a project.

Another significant benefit of recycling asphalt is that doing so keeps it out of landfills. Prior to the invention of RAP, asphalt went directly to the dump for disposal. Now, you can recycle it for immediate or future use.

Why It’s Economically Advantageous To Use Recycled Asphalt

Recycled asphalt doesn’t require pulling fresh aggregate materials from the earth. While you do need to add new materials for the best possible performance, the resulting mix is less costly than using 100% virgin materials.

There are two methods for recycling asphalt: recycling in place and removal to an off-site plant for processing. On-site recycling involves pulling up the old asphalt with a scraping machine. The scraping machine then conveys the old material to another device that breaks up the asphalt into its components. It then introduces virgin material to strengthen the existing material and restore volume.

This conversion involves hot or cold processes and full-depth recycling. The cold recycling process eliminates the need to use a heat source, making it even more economically advantageous. Asphalt glue is also recyclable as it holds its adhesive properties throughout the process. Fresh sealant is added to the mixture, but not as much as would be needed when using new materials.

Recycled Asphalt Performs the Same as Fresh Asphalt

Aggregate is a type of refined gravel that doesn’t deteriorate with use. The binding agent is also recyclable, although it does wear down over time. However, you can reuse what remains in the asphalt after removal. There is a need to add fresh binder, but the amount used is much less than what you would need for an application of brand-new asphalt.

After recycling, the asphalt is put back down onto a surface and reused. There’s no way to know if the asphalt is brand-new or recycled due to the durability of the materials used to create it.

Improves the Quality of Roadways

Not all aggregate is equal when it comes to durability, and it’s normal for some of the gravel to crack over time. Recycling the aggregate removes its broken pieces from the mix, leaving the most substantial parts behind. This results in a more robust asphalt layer that lasts longer and resists the formation of potholes. Roadways endure longer, even in climates with regular freeze and defrost cycles.

Common Uses for Recycled Asphalt

Recycled asphalt has a lot of uses that go beyond acting as the surface of roadways. You can use it in applications that include:

  • Parking lots and driveways.
  • Building exteriors.
  • Roofing and shingles.
  • Playgrounds.
  • Athletic tracks.
  • Trails.

This is not an exhaustive list as asphalt has many applications, and using RAP as part of your construction materials lowers its cost while providing a high-quality surface for people to use.

Challenges and Considerations to Using Recycled Asphalt

The biggest challenge that comes with using recycled asphalt comes in the form of quality. That is, the recycler may use lower-quality aggregate that shortens the lifespan of the finished product. Recycled asphalt also loses its deep black color more quickly than virgin material, something to take into consideration when appearances are important.

Why You Should Consider Using Recycled Asphalt for Your Construction Project

Recycled asphalt is economical, strong, and lasts longer than newly mixed. Using RAP may also earn your project LEED credits. If you do business in the Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Tampa areas of Florida, get in touch with us today to learn more about RAP, how we can supply your project with this economical alternative, and provide your company or roadway project with a quality surface that resists wear and tear.

Preparations for I-85 Widening in Davidson County by NCDOTcommunications is licensed with CC BY 2.0.

Posted on behalf of US PAVE

U.S. Pave is a full-service paving maintenance and installation company serving all of Florida with Parking Lot Maintenance, New Asphalt Construction, Asphalt Patching and Repair, Parking Lot Crack Repair, Pothole Repair, Parking Lot Resurfacing (Overlay), Parking Lot Sealcoating or Resealing, Concrete Maintenance, Concrete Flatwork, Concrete Car Stops, Flow line / Curb & Gutter, Trip-hazard Removal/Grinding, Parking Lot Striping, Signage, Bollards, ADA Compliance and Upgrades, Catch Basins, Sweeping and Porter Services.

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