Economic Considerations for Asphalt Pavement Recycling Techniques

Economic Considerations for Asphalt Pavement Recycling Techniques
Dennis Morian, P.E.
Luis Ramirez, M.Sc.
Transportation Research Board 95th Annual Meeting
Recycling, RAP, Pavement Rehabilitation, Asphalt


While it is desirable for a transportation agency to pursue the recycling of asphalt pavements, the economic assessment to determine the best value among the asphalt pavement recycling options can be a challenge. This issue has been long debated at agency and industry levels. The problem is that there is no “one size fits all” answer to this issue. There are a number of considerations which can influence the outcome of an economic analysis of this issue.

Several methods are available for recycling existing HMA pavement materials into new pavements. Among these are inclusion as RAP in HMA mix designs, cold in-place recycling, cold plant recycling, and hot in-place recycling. This paper will compile costs related to each of these options, and information about the relative performance of each for use in a benefit cost analysis model.

Important factors from a cost standpoint include RAP hauling and processing cost for central plant, vs. on site recycling activities, and the relative benefit (usefulness of) to the recycled pavement. Observation of industry practices have indicated that central plant recycling of HMA material into new plant mixed material is used more heavily where the roads are relatively near the plant facility. Other factors must include the cost of virgin HMA, the impact of recycling on that cost, and the relative useful life of the resulting pavement material. A cost benefit analysis of these factors will help quantify cost effectiveness for asphalt recycling activities.