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Recycling roads

July 19, 2007 at 12:28 pm

We’ve all heard about recycling food, packaging and clothes, but recycling roads is not quite as common. Several roads in Hemel Hempstead are to be completely re-surfaced by recycling their old surfaces. Four roads have been targeted for much-needed improvement, as the existing road surface has become worn out. The top surface is taken up, processed and then placed back onto the same road that it came from. Research carried out by The Transport Research Lab (TRL) found that only 17% of the 70 million tonnes of construction and demolition waste generated annually is recycled. However, there is potential to increase this to in excess of 70%. Both local and central government are keen to promote more sustainable, environmentally friendly regimes of road construction, which will cut the demand on primary aggregates and the associated environmental impact that this brings. Recycling road waste will conserve resources, divert waste from landfill and also has several other benefits.

The process will cut the costs traditionally associated with laying a new road, due to the re-use of original material. Using this old material also has obvious environmental benefits. Furthermore, there will be a huge reduction in harmful emissions from the large lorries which are usually required to take away the old road-surface and subsequently bring in the new one.

Hemel Hempstead is not the first area to introduce such an environmentally friendly road laying scheme. The successful road recycling programmes initiated in Bishop’s Stortford, Harpenden and Ware last year encouraged authorities in Hemel Hempstead to adopt the scheme.

In recent years, the benefits of recycling roads have been at the forefront of environmental issues. There have been two series of workshops held by AggRegain, an information service dedicated to sustainable aggregates. These workshops retain a focus on increasing the specification, procurement and use of recycled aggregates – they were aimed specifically at local authority highway engineers, in order to encourage them and their contractors to adopt the environmentally friendly process.

If more local authorities can be encouraged to adopt the process of road recycling, a real difference can be made in the quest to help save the environment, whilst saving the taxpayer a considerable amount of money at the same time.

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