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TRB publishes circular on plastics in asphalt

Photo Courtesy Barrett Industries

The Transportation Research Board’s Standing Committee on Production and Use of Asphalt (AKM10) recently published Transportation Research Circular E-C291, summarizing Workshop 1113 Plastics in Asphalt, which was held at the 99th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) in 2020.

Despite its age, the information in this circular remains relevant, complementing the recent National Academies of Sciences consensus study on Recycled Plastics in Infrastructure. Circular E-C291 specifically addresses the challenges associated with recycling plastics in asphalt pavements. 

The use of recycled plastics in asphalt construction is not a new concept; it has been explored and implemented since the 1980s. The case studies presented demonstrate successful applications of recycled plastic-modified asphalt in real road construction projects, whether through “wet” or “dry” processes. However, as asphalt pavements are considered as a potential solution for incorporating recycled plastics, it’s crucial to assess feasibility considering logistical hurdles like collecting, sorting, cleaning, their economic impact, and the long-term environmental impact of plastic use in asphalt. 

Photo Courtesy Barrett Industries

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