Asphalt Paving and The Impact on Our Environment
Earth Day is around the corner and at Burnaby Blacktop, we are proud to say that our residential paving, municipal paving, industrial paving, and commercial paving services are all provided with high regard for environmental impact. While on the surface asphalt paving may not seem like the most environmentally sound practice, conscientious asphalt paving companies like Burnaby Blacktop take our impact on the planet very seriously.
While we should be celebrating our planet and its natural beauty every day of the year, April 22nd is set aside as a reminder for humans to recognize how magnificent our orbiting marble truly is. By developing recycling programs, moving toward renewable energy sources, and implementing environmentally-friendly regulations and policies we have come a long way as a species, but there is still a very long way to go.
Climate change is more of a looming threat than ever before. It is our collective responsibility to curb its effects on future generations. Thankfully, eco-friendly trends and sustainability initiatives are actively gaining popularity across the globe and in virtually all industries – asphalt paving companies included!
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. While we have such a large natural asphalt deposit in our backyard, that does not totally eliminate the environmental impact of this material. Asphalt is a petroleum product, however, this also doesn’t necessarily mean that its use has a net negative effect on the environment. Below are some positives about asphalt to consider, as we move closer to Earth Day!
A Heavily Recycled Product is Asphalt
The demolition and replacement of driveways, roads, and parking lots are 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. Recycled asphalt is common all over the place, so chances are those scraps are under your feet in the form of a fresh, new surface.
It is an extremely common practice to utilize recycled asphalt. This technique is not only cost-effective but eco-friendly as well. Recycling asphalt allows for asphalt paving companies to repurpose material while still providing a high-quality finished product. In fact, we recycle millions of tonnes of asphalt every year!
Asphalt Milling: How Does It Work?
To recycle asphalt, we need an asphalt recycling machine. The machine mills and heats the material until it’s ready to be re-used. Asphalt milling and asphalt grinding are necessary components of the paving process, so why not use old material? 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.
Recycled asphalt is also good for the environment like most forms of recycling. 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. This means fewer emissions that are directly related to the transportation of material. Lastly, every tonne of asphalt that we recycle means one less tonne of material that ends up in a landfill.
Asphalt recycling is “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” at its very best. As a local leader in asphalt paving services, we are thrilled to be a part of it.
Pros & Cons of Recycled Asphalt Pavement
When it comes to recycled goods, consumers are often skeptical that they can be as strong or useful as the original. These concerns are valid for many materials but, generally speaking, asphalt is not one of them. Here are some pros and cons of using recycled asphalt.
- More affordable than virgin asphalt for the asphalt paving company and, in turn, for you.
- It’s better for the environment (see above!).
- Recycled asphalt offers a unique look that many consumers prefer.
- Recycled asphalt promotes increased percolation, which is great in wetter climates (read, Vancouver!).
- It bonds and sets up well, helping create a solid bed surface to walk or drive on.
- Recycled asphalt will not look brand new, with the deep black color only present with new asphalt.
- There are some concerns of overall quality, though that is largely dependent on the company doing the recycling.
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.
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. 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 brake hard. On a well-paved street, a modern car can achieve amazing braking distances reducing accidents and sometimes allowing them to be even avoidable. On a dirt road, a poorly paved road, or on an unsmooth surface, braking distances increase. Not only that, vehicle control decreases and accidents are harder to avoid.
Advances in Asphalt Technology
The technology surrounding asphalt has advanced. 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 needed to produce it. This results in lower fuel consumption and emissions. Thanks to these types of innovations, the road to the future are smoother than ever!
Science is constantly looking at new ways to improve roads. It 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. Nevertheless, 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 everyone does their part, we can leave this planet in a better place than we found it. If you have any questions about asphalt, our eco-friendly practices like asphalt milling, or you’re interested in our paving and repair services, feel free to give us a call at 778-855-0513.