Paving The Way To A Greener Future
Friday, October 27, 2023
by: Brett Kelly

Section: Trends and Tips

Have you ever wondered about the impact of your recycling? Well, you made it to the right place! It may be surprising, but recycling actually helps the paving industry help create a greener future. Join us as we take you through the reasoning of the use of plastics in asphalt, how recycled plastics in paving works, as well as its positive impacts.   


The asphalt industry demonstrates where technology and science meet roadways, parking lots, and driveways around the country. A few years ago, the paving industry combined forces with a recycling company to create an opportunity for safe disposal of plastics in roadways. While all roadways, parking lots, and driveways are not made of this new product, it is an option for companies to consider when replacing asphalt pavement. 



When budgeting for new asphalt, it’s essential to remember that while it may be expensive, if properly maintained, it does have a long lifespan. Since asphalt is tough and durable by nature, it’s important not to lose that if you make any changes to mix designs. When looking at plastics, they contain similar qualities. See four main qualities of plastic below: 

  • High Durability
  • High Melting Point
  • Slow Decomposition Rate
  • Resistance to UV rays

All of which give plastic a long life span and a reason to keep it out of our landfills and ecosystems. However, combining plastic with asphalt gives it a useful resting place and allows it to help with the longevity of pavement.



Using plastics in asphalt is a great option to consider for companies looking to GO GREEN, as the benefits are clear:

  • Comparable pricing to traditional asphalt
  • Helps reduce plastic waste in landfills
  • Reduces your company’s carbon footprint
  • Meets environmental targets
  • Boosts your company’s green image

Reducing plastic waste and safely using it in other industries is a win-win! 



So, the big question is how does adding plastics to asphalt mixtures really work? Asphalt is made up of aggregates (stone, gravel, sand) and a fossil fuel-based binder known as bitumen (a form of petroleum). Our partner takes non-recyclable and single-use plastics, such as grocery bags and bottles, grinds them up, and uses the resulting plastic granules to replace the bitumen. So, not only does this process save our landfills and ecosystems from tons of plastic pollution, but it also reduces fossil fuel usage and carbon emissions - Another win-win!



To put into perspective how effective using plastics can be to an ESG initiative, each square foot of the plastic additive mix saves the equivalent of 26 plastic bags or 8 plastic bottles from ending up in a landfill. In addition, it offsets .28kg of carbon dioxide. So, in the real world, what does that mean? Here are some numbers to consider:


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Thank you to Black Diamond Paving & Concrete, a 2023 BOMA San Diego Annual Supporting Partner, for providing this educational content!