Road builders told to switch to low carbon asphalt

Highways England is switching to use of warm mix asphalts as standard in the push towards net zero carbon emissions.

The material has been in limited use since 2015 but required a special application for use from the supply chain.

Highways England is now asking all those involved in the construction and maintenance of the strategic road network, particularly designers and main contractors, to utilise warm mix asphalts as standard.

WMA technologies can offer enhanced efficiencies and lower production carbon, with CO2 savings of up to 15% when compared to conventional hot mix asphalts.

Produced at temperatures up to 40°C lower than the 190°C needed for traditional asphalts the decision promises big benefits.

If all production in the UK switched to WMAs, it would save around 61,000 tonnes of CO2e a year, the equivalent of cutting around 300m miles of car journeys.

It would also help save up to £70m a year through an increase in shift outputs and can be recycled back into new asphalts, preventing waste.

Malcolm Dare, executive director of Commercial and Procurement at Highways England, said: “This is a big step forward for Highways England that allows us to not only achieve huge efficiency savings but also reduce carbon as we strive for net zero.

“We are altering our way of working to encourage and enable the use of warm mix asphalts as standard across the supply chain, which has efficiency, sustainability, and health and safety benefits while not compromising performance.”

WMAs account for significant volumes worldwide – almost 40% of asphalt production in the USA and over 15% in France.

But WMAs remain under-utilised in the UK, where they currently represent less than 4% of overall asphalt production.

Paul Gott, Project Sponsor from Morgan Sindall Infrastructure, said: “We are delighted that we’ve formed a group from across the supply chain who are focused on embedding carbon reduction measures across Highways England’s schemes.

“Warm mix asphalt is the first carbon efficiency project on the groups extensive carbon reduction plan, which is evolving and already identifies several short, medium and longer-term goals.”

Tim Jordan, Project Delivery Lead from Balfour Beatty added: “We are proud to be working collaboratively with both Highways England and our industry partners to drive meaningful, sustainable change in the supply chain as we work towards a net-zero future.”

Malcom Simms, Director of the Mineral Products Association, added: “We and members have been working closely with Highways England for a number of years to provide the evidence of the benefits of Warm Mix Asphalts, in order to give specifiers the confidence to make a shift to these solutions.”



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