Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement: An Eco-Friendly Solution

As the world grows increasingly aware of environmental issues, there is a growing demand for sustainable construction methods. Reclaimed asphalt pavement has emerged as an eco-friendly solution for preserving our planet by reducing waste and saving energy throughout the production cycle. 

This recycled product offers architects, engineers, and builders a way to reduce their carbon footprint while creating durable pavements at a fraction of the cost of traditional materials. Read on to learn more about reclaimed asphalt pavement and why it’s becoming popular among those looking to tread lightly on Mother Nature.

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Definition of Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement (RAP)

Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement (RAP) is a type of material that has come from previously used asphalt pavement. It is obtained by milling, full-depth removal, or ripping and crushing existing roadway pavement. It typically contains known toxic compounds such as petroleum-based hydrocarbons, heavy metals, and other pollutants which are hazardous to the environment. 

There are four main types of RAP: broken companies, milled material, crumb rubber modified material, and rubberized cold patch. 

  • Broken companies are chunks of the asphalt removed by breaking machines which may either be reused directly on site or taken away for processing into other materials. 
  • Milled material consists of pre-sized chunks ground down to a specific size. This type is commonly used for base and sub-base layers when additional stabilization is required. 
  • Crumb rubber-modified material is an asphalt and recycled tire combination which provides strong pavement performance and long-term durability. 
  • Rubberized cold patch is a mixture of asphalt binder, aggregate, and crumb rubber that can be easily applied in cooler temperatures from late fall through early spring. It offers excellent compaction properties, increased flexibility, and low-temperature stability compared with conventional hot mix asphalt. 

Benefits of Using RAP

Using Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement (RAP) instead of virgin materials can offer many benefits, from economic savings to improved performance and environmental sustainability. Let’s look at the three primary benefits of using RAP – environmental, economic, and performance.

Environmental Benefits

Using reclaimed asphalt pavement helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions in various ways:

  1. By reducing the amount of energy required to make new asphalt binder material, it can reduce energy consumption.
  1. It reduces reliance on petroleum products as a raw material source, reducing our need for fuel-based chemical manufacturing processes.
  1. Since RAP does not require quarrying or mining operations, air and water pollution are significantly reduced compared to producing new materials.

Economic Benefits

Reusing asphalt pavement instead of producing new material has many economic benefits. The most obvious is the cost savings associated with avoiding purchasing new raw materials and eliminating the need for additional transportation fees between the production site and the job site. Additionally, labor costs decrease since RAP can often be incorporated into existing mixes with minimal modification or adjustment to equipment or working conditions.

Performance Benefits

RAP has proven to offer several improvements in terms of performance from both a structural and an aesthetic standpoint. For example, when used in asphalt mixtures, it provides a more consistent texture, improving skid resistance and water drainage and improving durability over time. Additionally, since RAP is often a lighter color than new material, it can help create brighter surfaces that reflect more light and help decrease the urban heat island effect.

Challenges of Using RAP

RAP also has several unique challenges to address before effectively utilizing it. We will discuss the quality, availability, legal and regulatory issues associated with using RAP for new pavement construction.

Quality Issues: The quality of reclaimed asphalt varies depending on the source and age of the material. It may contain undesirable materials such as dirt, aggregates, or mineral fillers that can reduce its performance potential when used in a new pavement design. Additionally, some pavements may contain moisture that can cause premature cracking or raveling during service life. 

Availability Issues: Reclaimed asphalt pavement is only sometimes available where and when needed, particularly in rural areas. It must be carefully stored to prevent degradation or contamination with other materials. Additionally, transportation costs can be a significant factor when transporting RAP from one area to another.

Legal and Regulatory Issues: Depending on the jurisdiction, regulations may limit the use of recycled material in new construction projects. Also, some jurisdictions restrict how much RAP is allowed in a single project due to concerns about its performance potential.

Best Practices for Using RA

Following best practices when incorporating the material into new asphalt is essential to ensure that RAP performs correctly and effectively. Learn the importance of setting quality control measures and tips on proper processing methods to ensure a smooth, high-performing final product.

Mixing with New Asphalt

It is crucial to properly mix RAP with new asphalt to achieve optimal performance from both materials. Proper mixing involves pre-mixing the RAP before adding it to the hot mix of new aggregate and asphalt binder supplied by a drum or batch plant. The amount of RAP used will depend on the desired asphalt properties, such as air voids, viscosity, and strength, but should generally be no more than 25%–30%.

Processing Techniques

Once correctly mixed with new asphalt, ensuring the mixture undergoes the proper processing for optimal performance is crucial. It involves controlling factors such as temperature, moisture content, and compaction. Proper processing techniques also include properly storing materials, so they do not degrade from being exposed to the elements.

Quality Control Measures

Finally, a successful RAP project requires quality control measures to ensure the material meets all the specifications. Therefore, quality control tests should be conducted regularly to check the asphalt properties of RAP, such as density, air voids, and permeability. It is essential to address any irregularities immediately to prevent issues with the completed project.

Applications of RAP

Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement (RAP) can be an incredibly versatile material for constructing and maintaining roads, parking lots, and athletic tracks. Here are some applications for this material:

Road Construction and Maintenance: RAP can provide solutions for patching asphalt surfaces, filling potholes, adding base layers to new roads, resurfacing existing roads, and even constructing new highways. The recycled material is less expensive than traditional asphalt pavement because it does not require additional materials such as gravel or aggregate. 

Furthermore, using RAP is also environmentally friendly as it reduces waste and conserves energy by reducing the need for new paving materials.

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Parking Lots: RAP is a great option for creating parking lots. It can provide a durable surface that withstands heavy use while retaining its strength over time. The material is also cost-efficient due to its recyclable nature. Additionally, using RAP eliminates methane emissions from landfills where asphalt would otherwise end up.

Athletic Tracks: RAP can be used to create safe and long-lasting tracks. Its high tensile strength makes it ideal for tracks in sports like track and field, as athletes won’t have to worry about their feet slipping on the surface due to its grip characteristics. Furthermore, the installation process of RAP requires relatively fewer resources than other materials like concrete when constructing athletic tracks.


The future outlook for Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement is positive and full of potential. This innovative pavement solution offers a variety of benefits, gives old asphalt a new lease of life, and is also cost-effective. With larger-scale production becoming more manageable and more efficient over time, Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement looks set to become the paving system of choice for many organizations in the near future. 

To learn more about this product and what it can do for you, be sure to contact LeeBoy today to discuss the possibilities for your project. With LeeBoy at your side, you’ll have everything you need to give your pavement project the best start possible.

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