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Asphalt and the Environment

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Asphalt a natural wonder material

From smooth stretches of highway to pristine parking lots, to sweeping arcs of paths and driveways, asphalt can be found almost everywhere you look. Canada is home to the world’s largest natural deposit of asphalt, which is instrumental in helping to build the roadways that connect us all. But have you ever wondered about the environmental impact of asphalt? Asphalt is a petroleum product, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that its use has a negative effect on the environment. Read on to learn more about how asphalt and the environment interact.

Asphalt is a heavily recycled product!

The demolition and replacement of driveways, roads, and parking lots is a common sight. You’ve probably seen it several times, and maybe you’ve even wondered where that heap of asphalt scraps was going to end up. Chances are, those scraps are under your feet in the form of a fresh, new surface!

parking lot excavation

Asphalt recycling is an extremely common practice. In fact, millions of tonnes of asphalt are recycled every year! Scraps of asphalt are placed into an asphalt recycling machine, which mills and heats the material until it’s ready to be re-used. Recycled asphalt surfaces are just as durable as surfaces that are composed of a non-recycled material, and since recycling asphalt is not a particularly complicated or lengthy procedure, these surfaces are typically much more cost-effective.

So, how does asphalt recycling help the environment? First and foremost, it reduces the need to mine for new asphalt, which helps conserve Canada’s supply of naturally-occurring asphalt. Asphalt recycling also significantly cuts the need to transport asphalt between mines, refineries, and construction sites, which means fewer emissions that are directly related to the transportation of material. Lastly, every tonne of asphalt that is recycled means one less tonne of material that ends up in a landfill. Asphalt recycling is “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” at its very best!

Asphalt helps improve fuel efficiency and safety

We all know the satisfaction that comes from guiding a vehicle down an exceptionally smooth asphalt roadway. But did you know that the very smoothness of the asphalt surface can actually have a positive impact on the environment? Studies have shown that smoother roads and highways can increase fuel economy, which helps reduce vehicle emissions.

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Simply put, the smoother a road is, the less fuel a vehicle will use when driving on it. Smooth, even roads reduce friction and rolling resistance between tires and pavement, which means better fuel efficiency. There’s an obvious and immediate environmental benefit that comes with using less fuel because a reduction in fuel use helps to conserve our natural resources. But decreased fuel consumption also reduces vehicle emissions, which comes as a breath of fresh air for many. By helping to reduce fuel consumption, asphalt paves the way to a cleaner, greener future for everyone!

Ever drive on a dirt road, a wet dirt road and have to break hard. On a well-paved street, a modern car can achieve amazing braking distances reducing accidents and sometimes allowing them to be avoided entirely. On a dirt road, one that is poorly paved or simply has a unsmooth surface, braking distances increase, vehicle control is reduced and accidents are harder to avoid.

Advances in Asphalt Technology

Although asphalt has been used since ancient times, the technology surrounding it has enjoyed significant advancements. The more we learn, the more efficient and effective it becomes to install and maintain asphalt surfaces. One of the ways that technological advancement has contributed to easier and more environmentally-friendly asphalt installation is by making it possible to use low energy, or “warm,” asphalt mixes. This type of asphalt mix reduces the amount of energy that’s required to produce it, resulting in lower fuel consumption and emissions. Thanks to these types of innovations, the road to the future is smoother than ever!

Science is constantly looking at new ways to improve roads and is even trying out the use of nanomaterials to improve asphalt durability and environmental friendliness. The world seems about to transition to the electric car over the next decades, but chances are asphalt in one form or another will be around long after gasoline-powered vehicles are mostly museum pieces.

At Burnaby Blacktop, we’re proud to pave the way to safer, more environmentally-friendly roadways. If you have any questions about asphalt, or you’re interested in our paving and repair services, feel free to give us a call at 778-855-0513.

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