NAPA: Recycled asphalt use at an all-time high

By |  September 19, 2019
According to NAPA, 82 million tons of RAP, along with 1.05 million tons of RAS, were used in 389.3 million tons of new asphalt pavement mixes in the U.S. in 2018. Photo by Kevin Yanik

According to NAPA, 82 million tons of RAP, along with 1.05 million tons of RAS, were used in 389.3 million tons of new asphalt pavement mixes in the U.S. in 2018. Photo by Kevin Yanik

More than 100 million tons of reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) were collected for reuse in the United States last year, the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) reports.

NAPA gathered this information through an annual survey of the industry.

According to the association, the 100 million tons collected saved about 61.4 million cu. yd. of landfill space.

“Over the years, we’ve seen steady advancement in the amount of RAP being used across the country,” says Audrey Copeland, NAPA president and CEO. “This has been the result of concerted engineering efforts by industry and road owners to research and apply best practices to ensure we maintain or improve performance while increasing the use of recycled materials.

“As interest grows in incorporating other recycled materials into pavements, we must continue to gain a solid understanding of how new materials affect pavement performance before we move to widespread deployment,” Copeland adds.

Nationally, the average amount of RAP in new asphalt pavements in 2018 was 21.1 percent. This is the highest level reported since the NAPA survey began in 2009.

The survey also found that 82.2 million tons of RAP, along with 1.05 million tons of recycled asphalt shingles (RAS), were used in 389.3 million tons of new asphalt pavement mixes in the U.S. in 2018.

An additional 8.8 million tons of RAP and RAS were used as aggregate, in cold-mix asphalt, and for other road-building activities. Also, the survey found that at the end of last year, about 111.7 million tons of RAP and RAS were stockpiled for future use across the U.S.

Warm-mix asphalt tech

The asphalt pavement industry also continues to make significant use of warm-mix asphalt (WMA) technologies.

In 2018, 157.4 million tons of asphalt pavement mixture was produced using WMA technologies. According to NAPA, more than half of this tonnage was produced at reduced temperatures, meaning less energy was required in manufacturing.

The most common WMA technology used is plant-based foaming, which injects a small amount of water into the asphalt during production. A number of environmental, worker safety and construction benefits have been realized through the adoption of WMA technologies, NAPA says.

“A decade ago, WMA technologies were a novel idea,” says John Harper, senior vice president of Construction Partners Inc. who serves as the 2019 chairman of NAPA. “In 2018, though, more than half the asphalt pavement mixture tonnage produced in 23 states used WMA technologies, and in six of those states, it was more than 75 percent of the tonnage.

“While there remains room to grow their use, WMA technologies have become just another tool we can use to produce the best asphalt mixture to meet a given project or agency need,” Harper adds.

About NAPA’s survey

NAPA conducted its annual survey during the first quarter this year. Results were produced from 272 companies, with 1,329 plants across 49 states, the District of Columbia and two U.S. territories.

Data from state asphalt pavement associations for 33 states was also used to compile the report.

A copy of the full survey report, including a state-by-state breakdown of data, is available here.

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is the editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry magazine. Yanik can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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