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From waste to resource - 100 % circular asphalt production

Denne idé er en del af The Circular Construction Challenge – Rethink Waste

Cecilie Fernandez
Cecilie Fernandez
28. september 2018

Circular solution

Tarpaper Recycling will develop a new asphalt production plant (REC100) that will ensure 100% utilization of the resources in roofing felt and asphalt waste that is currently being incinerated or accumulated.

In Denmark only approx. 1/3 of the annual RAP amount of 1 million tons and approx. 1/3 of the annual amount of roofing felt waste of 14.000 tonnes are recycled. The RAP volume is accumulated and, in order to reduce the amount of waste, the RAP is downgraded to among other things gravel. Consequently, large volumes are lost as are resources with a vast environmental impact as consequence.

The conventional procedure for treatment of roofing felt waste is to burn it in incineration plants and it is thus used as fossil fuel. The energy in the oil is not fully exploited in this process, since approx. 65% of the roofing felt is non-combustible (due to size and stone materials). With the new technology proposed, much more roofing felt and resources could be recycled in a CO2 reducing process.

Production of asphalt in REC100 ensures continuous recycling in a 100% circular process as asphalt pavement after some years is crushed and recycled again and again in new asphalt production - products thus potentially lasting forever. The new process will lead to CO2 savings because the oil is utilized far better than when incinerated and lead to increase of the recycling of all components in roofing felt and asphalt.

The solution aims at creating a new resource-efficient circular production of asphalt with a minimum of emissions. The solution can be used by the conventional larger asphalt producers but also the smaller construction companies, who today is dependent on the large asphalt producers. The vision is to solve the existing waste problem with roofing felt and asphalt all over Europe and use them as valuable resources with large benefits for the producer, customer and society at large.

The new production plant is a mobile device that can produce asphalt of 100% recycled materials solely by heating from a propane gas burner. This means more flexible, mobile and resource-saving production. The plant is designed to produce asphalt solely from cold recycled materials: roofing and asphalt granules, which are heated up. Unlike the traditional - and the majority of asphalt production today - in both Denmark and the EU, hot-mixed asphalt is produced at large resource-consuming plants, where the material is heated up prior to mixing. In the new solution, there is no need for virgin bitumen, which is ground-breaking as asphalt products without virgin bitumen are not marketed today. Bitumen is an oil product that needs to be kept constant warm to avoid coagulation and is the most expensive and resource-consuming component of asphalt. By allowing production without virgin bitumen and only with recycled materials, resource optimization and implementation of a full circular solution are ensured.

The University of Augsburg, Germany has calculated CO2 emissions of incineration and recycling of roofing felt. The conclusion is that, recycling of roofing felt, can save 1,677 tons of CO2 per tons of roofing felt when compared to incineration. Collecting and recycling all roofing felt in Denmark, this would result in a CO2 saving of 23,712 tons of CO2 per year. At European level, this could mean annual savings of around 2.2 million tons of CO2.

Recycled oil and rock materials in the roofing pavement and asphalt will replace the virgin oil and stone consumed today, and there are therefore additional savings from reduced extraction, transportation and consumption of virgin products. The new production plant could mean a saving of approx. 3,300 tons of oil and 56,000 tons of stone materials per facilities per year. With an estimated market for about 250 plants in Europe, this will mean a total saving of 825,000 tons of bitumen and 14 million tons of stones annually.


The end-users will be building contractors, recycling stations and asphalt companies. They will have access to a cheaper asphalt production facility and the opportunity to produce asphalt produced of 100% recycled materials. In Denmark, construction companies account for approx. 80% of the crushed asphalt (RAP), which they must pay a fee for to deliver to the asphalt producers or recycling centres. With the new plant, construction companies can use the material for the production of new asphalt, which they can sell at competitive prices (down to 1/3 of current market price) or use themselves for asphalt paving. The new asphalt plant thus solves a waste problem while allowing users to enter a new market. End-users of asphalt will get a cheaper and greener asphalt. Customers and the end-users will therefore strengthen their green image and economic opportunities, which will increase the competitiveness of a European market where recycling and circular economy are criteria of increased importance. Companies must increasingly meet political, environmental and social demands for sustainable production. By using the new technology, they will contribute to national and international policy objectives for strengthening circular economy and recycling of construction waste and contribute to the objectives of the EU's Circular Economy Package and Waste Framework Directive (2008/98 / EC on waste) on the recycling of 70% of construction waste by 2020.

Benefits for the end-users, the environment and society will thus be large as we save scarce virgin resources, handle a waste problem, lower the CO2 emissions and gives the asphalt producers a cheaper and greener production and thus the customers a cheaper and circular product.

The new solution has a huge business potential, as nothing similar is available on the market. Today, almost all asphalt is produced with virgin bitumen, which must constantly be kept at a temperature between 140 and 170 degrees to avoid solidification. Therefore, traditional asphalt production is associated with a very high consumption of resources. In contrast to this, the new solution will not use virgin oil, which means that resources are saved both on the materials for asphalt and in connection with heating and process. It is therefore also possible to produce cheaper asphalt to the same quality as traditionally produced asphalt. Furthermore, the plant itself will be easier accessible than a traditional asphalt plant which is a huge and complicated facility. A high demand for this new solution is therefore expected. The estimate is that there is a potential for 250 plants in Europe (based on the amount of available RAP/year). The expectation is that a turn-key production can be established after 4 years after the project has been completed with an expected sale of 20 plants per year after 5 years. The European market would be exploited first, but there is also an expectation of a future demand for this solution globally e.g. on the American market where there is an annual production of roughly 350 million tons of asphalt.  

Co-creation and competencies

SuperAsfalt A/S will play a crucial role in development of the solution with its expertise in asphalt production. Combined with Tarpaper Recycling’s knowledge of roofing felt waste and engineering experts this proves a solid foundation for developing and constructing this new solution. We have inhouse competencies such as knowledge of handling of roofing felt waste, asphalt production and testing. However, expertise on design, drawing and construction of the equipment is needed from e.g. machine and technical engineers.  

Initial trials of production of this new type of circular asphalt have been made proving the concept and quality of the asphalt. Initial designs of the plant have also been drafted. However, due to lack of resources, the project has been put on hold. The CCC-program could therefore have a huge impact and incremental importance on the realization of this circular solution. It is therefore expected that the program can contribute with supportive means such as financial resources as well as expertise and human resources to reach the goal of this innovative idea of a 100% circular production.