Bitumen has been used as a waterproofing solution and adhesive for more than 7,000 years. Ancient Sumerians used bitumen in their buildings as mortar between bricks and stones and its importance to the construction industry has only grown over time. As we become more environmentally aware there is an increased focus on sustainability in all aspects of life and business and it is natural that we should consider the sustainability of our activities. Bitumen used in road surfaces and other applications can be collected and reused again and again in new materials. Indeed reuse and recycling is still growing: In 2013, almost 50 million tonnes of asphalt were recycled in Europe. Quantities reused directly back into road surfaces vary from country to country, but can be as high as 85%.
Recycling can either be performed in situ, where the broken-up asphalt pavement is re-formed and mixed into new materials to form the new structure. Alternatively, the pavement can be collected and taken to a plant to be used as a component of a new mixture.
Asphalt recycling contributes to the sustainability of our industry in a number of different ways: it reduces waste, preserves non-renewable natural resources (aggregate and bitumen) and also reduces transport and logistical costs and emissions associated with removing the original material and delivering the new road elements.