No More Excuses – Time for mandatory use of recycled aggregates
By Andrew Macklin
April 4, 2016 – In my limited four years of experience covering the industry, this has always been something that seemed brutally obvious to me: you recycle aggregates from road and building sites and find secondary uses for the resources once you crush it.
As I dug into the issue a little more during the first couple of years on the job, I came to understand that the science of it isn’t that cut and dried, but the fundamental principle still seemed pretty clear.
So when I was reminded that not all municipalities allow for the inclusion of recycled concrete materials and recycled asphalt products in their contracts, I was reminded that the simplest of concepts are not always universally accepted.
Without a doubt, early adoption of recycled materials has caused issues in road construction projects, as the properties of reused asphalt binders and deleterious materials in the mix were not always completely understood. But the efforts of educational institutions like the Centre for Pavement and Transportation Technology (CPATT) at the University of Waterloo and the National Centre for Asphalt Technology (NCAT) in Auburn, Ala. have exponentially increased our understanding of how to properly include recycled aggregates in our mixes, not to mention the extensive R&D done by industry stakeholders.
There are also the secondary benefits that we are all aware of: less material to the landfill, a source of secondary revenue for some operations and the extension of the life of our pits and quarries.
So why are some municipalities still so afraid of using recycled materials? Some of it certainly comes from those who tried using it in its earlier forms with negative results. They are the ones who either ignore or refuse attempts to learn about industry advancements. There is also a fear factor; those who believe for one reason or another that it is not possible for RCM and RAP to meet the same standards as its virgin counterparts.
However, to steal the greatest political cliché of this generation, neither of these excuses are valid “because it’s 2016.” And in 2016, we have the knowledge that allows us to understand the right ways to incorporate RCM and RAP into municipal projects. We have the knowledge, the R&D, the case studies, the standards and the wisdom to successfully introduce a percentage of recycled materials into our operations and our construction.
The time has come for this to be mandatory. Through our associations and with the ear of our government officials, it is time to call for a nationwide mandate that states that RAP or RCM must be used. Similar to the carbon tax that the Liberal government is looking to move forward with later in 2016 – a minimum standard that all provinces must meet – a recycling mandate should be introduced in a similar fashion.
The time has come to strip municipalities of excuses. It’s time for us to stand together and force the hand.
Editor’s note: Last issue in my State of the Industry report I mistakenly overlooked the fact that Manitoba is not the only province heading to the polls in 2016. They will be usurped by their neighbours to the west, Saskatchewan, who head to the polls a few weeks earlier in April. I apologize for the oversight.