The Constructor

Asphalt Industry Targets Net-Zero Pavements by 2050

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Following the cement and concrete industry, the asphalt industry is the latest one aiming to become completely net-zero by 2050.

Every industry is striving to achieve the target of net-zero carbon emissions in order to put an end to the rapid climatic changes.

To fulfill this goal, the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) unveiled the Road Forward Mission at their 2022 annual meeting at Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.

Asphalt net zero

The mission was crafted by a 21-member Climate Stewardship Task Force and constitutes four goals, eight research and implementation gaps, and 19 tactics.

The mission will guide all sectors of the U.S. asphalt industry over the next two decades in achieving the net-zero target. The NAPA has also dedicated a part of its website to the mission. 

The four goals laid by the mission are:

1. Achieving net-zero carbon emissions during asphalt production and construction by 2050.

2. Partnering with customers and stakeholders to reduce emissions through pavement quality, durability, longevity, and efficiency standards by 2050.

3. Building a net-zero supply chain by 2050.

4. Transition to electricity from renewable energy providers in support of net-zero carbon electricity generation by 2050.

What makes asphalt the leading choice for pavement infrastructure?

1. Environmentally Friendly

The 100% recyclability nature of asphalt allows it to be reused for making new roadways. The asphalt industry reuses and recycles 100 million tonnes of asphalt pavement every year, saving taxpayers $2 billion annually.

Asphalt also requires 20% less energy than other pavement materials. Post-consumer waste such as used tires and shingles can also be used in asphalt pavements, reducing landfills and conserving natural resources.

2. Time-Efficient

Asphalt roads take lesser time for construction and are easier to maintain. An entire road can be removed and replaced in a single night and can be used from the very next day.

3. Safety

The smoothness of asphalt gives tires superior contact with the road and also provides high contrast in color between asphalt pavements and road markers, resulting in a reduced number of accidents.

4. Noise Reduction

Asphalt pavement reduces the traffic volume by 50 decibels.

5. Durability

All asphalt pavements have a bridging action and are flexible, which means they can resist occasional overloads without serious damage. Asphalt roads require less maintenance like seal coating, pothole filling, sweeping to be in good shape for a longer time.

The smoothness of asphalt roads increases the life span of the roads and brings down the wear and tear in the tires of vehicles, thus making them cost-efficient.

6. RAP and WMA

Asphalt mixes containing reclaimed asphalt pavements (RAP) have been in use for decades due to their ability to generate fewer greenhouse gases.

Usage of warm mix asphalt (WMA) allows producers to lower the temperature at which material is mixed and placed on the road by 50° to 100° Fahrenheit, generating less greenhouse gas emissions and reducing fuel consumption.

In 2010, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) made warm-mix asphalt part of its everyday counts initiative to boost the technology implementation in improving the highway project’s quality, sustainability, and safety.

7. Environmental Product Declarations

Taking one more step towards a greener environment, NAPA has developed a tool called Emerald Eco-label tool to create Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for asphalt mixtures. EPDs are the standardized way of determining the environmental impacts of a product.

These are third-party verified and follow the guidelines and procedures as per ISO 14025. 

The NAPA’s Emerald Eco-Label EPD tool was created by industry professionals and stakeholders and was developed in conformation with ISO 14025 and EN 15804. It establishes principles and procedures for developing a Type 3 environmental declaration program and describes the environmental impacts of a product.

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