Which is the Most Recycled Product in the US?

If I asked you which is the most recycled product, what would you guess?

You might say aluminum cans, which have long held the lead among consumer products, but in the industrial world, it’s on literally on the road – recycled pavement. 

99% of all asphalt is recycled and used to fix and build roads over and over again.

A variety of recycled materials are in that pavement – recycled roof shingles, ground rubber from tires, glass, foundry sand, slag and even pig manure, says the Nation Asphalt Pavement Association.

Roads

In 2011, US taxpayers saved $2.2 billion by using recycled materials to pave roads. 66.7 million tons of reclaimed asphalt pavement and 1.2 million tons of reclaimed asphalt shingles went into paving projects.  

As most of you know, using recycled materials requires much less energy, while conserving raw materials. It also keeps hundreds of millions of cubic yards of material out of landfills each year. Emissions are cut from production and paving operations, and workers benefit from using less toxic products.

"When reclaimed asphalt pavement and shingles are reprocessed into new pavement mixtures, the liquid asphalt binder in the recycled material is reactivated, reducing the need for virgin asphalt binder. Warm-mix asphalt technologies allow asphalt pavements to be produced at lower temperatures, which means reduced energy demands, as well as lower emissions during production and paving," explains the Asphalt Association. 

Asphalt occurs naturally in asphalt lakes and in rock asphalt (a mixture of sand, limestone, and asphalt). The first recorded use of asphalt for road building was in Babylon around 625 B.C.

There’s even a LEED-like rating system for sustainable road construction, Greenroads.

Roads get points for noise mitigation, low-impact drainage solutions, storm water and waste management, providing scenic views, using recycled materials, and accommodating non-motorized transportation. 

Learn about Greenroads:

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