Is Asphalt Safe for the Environment?

Asphalt Paving Maintenance Company Grand Rapids, MI Contractors

Yes, asphalt is safe for the environment. But a simple answer doesn’t do justice because there are a lot of benefits of asphalt that don’t get talked about.

Here’s what you need to know about how asphalt is made, its effects on the environment, and what to expect moving forward.

How Long Does Asphalt Last? 

When it comes to road construction and maintenance, you may have a lot of ideas on how it works. When you see us tearing up stones and old asphalt on your local roads or the highway, it’s not so that we can get rid of old material.

All of that material is actually reused to create future asphalt.

Asphalt is a combination of rocks, sand, slag, and gravel. These are commonly known as aggregates. So, tearing up old roads isn’t a destruction process, but more of a reconstruction process.

This also means that the longevity of asphalt goes far beyond when it was first laid to when it gets torn up.

Asphalt can be recycled over and over.

Recycling asphalt is what helps make it environmentally friendly and environmentally stable. As a local asphalt company, we don’t have to harvest raw materials from the earth like gravel but instead can reuse and recycle to save on natural resources.

Related: What is Asphalt Milling?

Asphalt Heating and Mending Process

You might be wondering how asphalt gets bound together. This is by using a substance called bitumen, which is made by refining crude oil.

Bitumen is extremely viscous, and it’s what traditionally gives asphalt its dark color. In a typical asphalt mix, bitumen makes up about 5% while the aggregates fill up the rest of the 95%.

Asphalt can be mixed in three different ways, each of them requiring a different process but all of them having minimal environmental concerns.

  • Hot Asphalt Mixture: Known for its extreme durability, this mixture is often used in high traffic areas like highways and airports.
  • Warm Asphalt Mixture: This is generally better for the environment and for workers because its temperature isn’t as extreme. This saves on heating costs and reduces workers’ exposure to high heat.
  • Cold Mixtures: These are possible through a bitumen chemical reaction that doesn’t require heat. They’re most common for low traffic areas such as back roads, play courts, roofing, and walking trails.

The EPA considers asphalt production a minor source of industrial pollution, and in some cases, construction projects can earn LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) credits by using asphalt.

How Does Asphalt Affect People and the Environment?

Did you know that some drinking water reservoirs are layered in asphalt—just like some landfill caps, water pipelines, and lake beds? This is because asphalt doesn’t leach, making it a safe shield.

Schedule a Free Estimate

A-1 Asphalt Inc. is proud to serve clients in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and surrounding West Michigan areas. To request a free estimate for asphalt paving, call (800) 871-4401.

This blog post has been updated.