What is Recycled Asphalt?

Recycled asphalt, or reclaimed asphalt, is among the most common surfacing materials for roads, parking lots, footpaths, and playgrounds. But what exactly is recycled asphalt, why is it important, and how does it work? 

Read on to learn all about recycled asphalt from our team of experts.

What is Asphalt? 

Asphalt is a man-made material primarily composed of a binding substance (bitumen) and aggregates. Bitumen is a black, viscous by-product of oil, and aggregates are a mixture of crushed rock, sand, and gravel. Combined, asphalt is a durable and cost-efficient material for surfacing outdoor spaces. 

What are the Benefits of Asphalt?

There are many benefits of asphalt. 

  • Enhances road safety by maintaining high skid resistance and reducing spray
  • Reduces tire-to-road surface noise
  • 100% recyclable back into road surfaces
  • The use of lower temperatures and reduced energy asphalts cut carbon emissions.
  • Improves ride comfort
  • Durable – design life of at least 40 years
  • Quick and easy to lay, cutting down on lengthy roadworks

Is Asphalt Recyclable? 

Asphalt is recyclable using advanced commercial equipment. While an existing asphalt surface can be crushed and recycled offsite, new techniques allow asphalt to be recycled and relayed onto the roadway or surface structure without being transported elsewhere. This can include additional recycled asphalt millings to supplement surface repair or as a sub-base material directly beneath the surface. 

Why is it Important to Recycle Asphalt? 

Recycled asphalt is an economically efficient and environmentally friendly way to repair surfaces, including road shoulders, potholes, utility cuts, etc. Asphalt is chemically composed of residue from the distillation of petroleum (resins and oils) along with compounds of hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, and oxygen – being able to recycle these chemical components has a significant impact by reducing the environmental footprint of acquiring more production material. 

How is Asphalt Recycled? 

Asphalt is recycled through hot and cold methods, either offsite at a central processing facility or in-place recycling. 

Hot Mix Asphalt (Central Processing Facility)

Recycled hot mix is often produced at a processing facility. The process produces a finished granular asphalt product processed to the desired gradation. This product is subsequently incorporated into hot-mix asphalt paving mixtures as an aggregate substitute. 

Hot Mix Asphalt (In-Place Recycling)

Hot in-place recycling is a process of repaving that is performed as either a single or multiple-pass operation using specialized heating, scarifying, rejuvenating, lay down, and compaction equipment. There is no processing required before the actual recycling operation. One of the most common techniques is called ‘infrared patching.’

Cold Mix Asphalt (Central Processing Facility)

The asphalt processing requirements for cold mix recycling are similar to those for recycled hot mix, except the asphalt product is incorporated into cold mix asphalt paving mixtures as an aggregate substitute.

Cold Mix Asphalt (In-Place Recycling)

The cold in-place recycling process involves specialized plants or processing trains, whereby the existing pavement surface is milled to a depth of up to 6 inches, processed, mixed with asphalt emulsion (or foamed asphalt), and placed and compacted in a single pass. There is no processing required before the actual recycling operation.

What is Recycled Asphalt Used For? 

Recycled asphalt is used to construct, repave, patch and repair driving surfaces along with walk and bike paths, parks, outdoor basketball courts, schoolyards, and more. Recycled asphalt saves money on time and materials instead of investing in an entirely new surface, extending the lifetime, safety, and good appearance of an existing asphalt surface. 

Can Anyone Recycle Asphalt?

Recycling asphalt is a process that requires both experience and commercial equipment, such as crushers, infrared heating machinery, screening units, conveyors, and stackers. In addition to these hurdles, asphalt contains potentially hazardous materials that are dangerous if not handled with the proper care, expert techniques, or safety equipment. It is recommended that recycling asphalt is left to professionals. 

Start Your Recycled Asphalt Project 

Recycled asphalt is the best method for repaving an existing surface because it is less expensive, faster, and more environmentally friendly than newly created asphalt admixtures alone. 
Asphalt recycling may seem complex at first, but you don’t have to face it by yourself. If you manage an asphalt surface that needs repaving, don’t hesitate to contact the experts in recycled asphalt today!