The world’s infrastructure is always expanding to meet a growing population’s needs. Cities and rural areas are constantly building and improving roadways to accommodate the increase in cars and trucks traveling all over the world. This increase brings with it some long term, adverse environmental effects that need addressing.
Most roads are made from either asphalt or concrete, and that means lots of stone. Mining operations with massive machines extract that stone from the quarry at great cost to the environment around it. The machines require ample energy, in the form of fossil fuels, to pull the stone from the earth. Concrete’s active element is cement. Making cement releases volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere and it is believed to harm the ozone layer. The list of environmental concerns surrounding road building is long. Fortunately, there are ways to go green in road construction.
Recycle Asphalt and Concrete
When old roads and parking lots are torn up, the old road is reusable. During the removal process, construction companies grind up the old material and make it available for future projects. Doing this saves money from having to buy new aggregate and it saves from having to mine new stone. Recycling the old roads is the best way to go green.
Use Permeable Pavers
Instead of using asphalt for a smaller parking lot, use permeable pavers. They allow water to seep back into the ground, rather than running off. Pavers look better, have more flexibility, are more inviting—some are made from recycled materials.
Add Plastics to the Roads
There are companies that take recycled plastic from bottles, cups, and bags, save them from the landfill, and convert them into pellets. Combining those pellets with the hot bitumen in asphalt makes the road stronger. After melting, the plastic makes the road more water-resistant, stronger, and more durable. It’s a great way to reduce waste in the landfills and make trash useful.
Soy-Based Striping Paints
Soy-based striping paints are better for the environment than their petroleum-based cousins. They use a natural plant as their basis and do less damage to the environment during their production. Road stripping goes on for hundreds of miles, for however long the road is. Finding a more eco-friendly paint eases the burden on the environment.