Learn the important facts about the most recycled material in the US—asphalt!

The next time you’re out driving on a road in the US, know that you’re likely driving on asphalt as 94 percent of all roads in the US are paved with asphalt. You should also know that you’re likely driving on the most recycled material in the US! The asphalt pavement industry prides itself on the sustainability of asphalt. Explore the key facts about asphalt recycling in the US.

Asphalt Recycling by the Numbers

Asphalt is the most recycled material in the US and the numbers prove it. In March of 2022, the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) released “The 2020 Recycled Materials and Warm-Mix Usage Report” which crunches the numbers concerning asphalt recycling in the US for that year. Key facts to know about asphalt recycling include:

  • In 2020, 87 million tons of reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) was recycled into new mixes to make new asphalt paving. Comparatively, all of the aluminum and steel cans, glass, plastic, and paper recycled in 2020 added up to 58.5 million tons.
  • 93 percent of all the old asphalt pavement tore up in 2020 was reclaimed and recycled into new asphalt mixes.
  • The remaining RAP that is not recycled into new asphalt is used in other civil engineering applications, like unbound aggregate bases, making asphalt as close to 100% recyclable as possible.
  • 2.3 million metric tons of CO2e were kept out of the atmosphere by using RAP in new mixtures in 2020, which is equivalent to the annual emissions of over 500,000 passenger vehicles.
  • 24 million barrels of virgin asphalt binder was saved by using recycled binder from RAP and recycled asphalt shingles (RAS) in 2020.
  • In terms of durability, high-grade RAP with adequate asphalt content that is ‘properly’ recycled performs nearly the same or as well as virgin asphalt.
  • The savings from using RAP instead of virgin aggregates and asphalt binder to make new asphalt is in the billions of dollars.
  • The amount of landfill space saved by recycling 97 million tons of asphalt is 58.9 million cubic yards, with savings of $5.3 billion in gate fees for disposal in landfills. 

Tucker Paving is a paving construction company with over 25 years of experience in the asphalt and concrete paving industry! Contact us online, or call us at (863) 299-2262 for assistance with your asphalt paving projects. We also accept clean concrete and asphalt debris for recycling!