top of page

Waste as a resource

The Environment Act 2021 introduced the idea of a mandatory digital tracking system for waste. According to a Tarmac report, Changing mindsets on aggregate reuse and recycling in the built environment, published in August, the new tracking system could be introduced as early as this year, although other sources suggest it will be 2024.

The aim of the digital tracking system, which will replace current paper ones, is to provide a much more robust approach, making it far easier to catch rogue operators and to prevent fly tipping. The system could also enable potential users of waste construction and demolition materials to hook up with potential providers more efficiently. And it should give a clearer picture of what is happening to waste – including how much is being reused and recycled.

Of course, the road construction industry has been making use of waste or secondary material for decades, working with asphalt mixes that contain some proportion of recycled asphalt plannings (RAP). In the UK, it is standard practice to use between 10% and 40% RAP in the lower layers of a road, with around 10% in surface layers, although some recent projects have gone as high as 50% in surface layers.

We could go further with cyclical thinking, considering our existing roads as a useful resource to be mined and re-used as their surfaces reach the end of their useful lives. It’s no surprise that countries such as the Netherlands that don’t have their own plentiful aggregate supply already have this mindset, using high proportions of RAP in their mixes out of necessity.

In countries where RAP is considered a resource, it is treated differently too. Stockpiles of RAP at modern plants are covered with a protective roofing to prevent water getting into the RAP which, in turn, reduces the energy needed to drive off the moisture and get the material up to the right temperature.

Changes in legislation, such as mandatory digital tracking, will change our approach to waste, re-use and recycling here in the UK. Digital systems such as Asphalt IQ – one of Thermal Road Repair’s partners - will help road network managers better plan future resurfacing projects to include RAP. Asphalt IQ is a system where a tag, which can be scanned by a phone to give details of the material used and when it was installed, is embedded in the road surface. (See previous blog for information on how a bespoke version of Asphalt IQ automatically calculates carbon savings for pothole repairs executed with our system).

One of the principles of any circular system – such as the re-use of RAP – should be to prolong the initial life of the material. This is where technologies such as Thermal Road Repairs comes in. Because the material in and around the pothole is heated up in a controlled way and then mixed with a small amount of new asphalt, the repair is effectively permanent, prolonging the overall life of the road. It also produces no waste at all, unlike traditional methods where the failing material around a pothole must be cut out before new material is added.

As an industry, we should welcome new digital solutions that help professionalise road construction, maintenance and repair. However, one of the challenges with the new mandatory digital tracking system for waste is that details of how it will work are not yet available. Advice from consultants is for companies to review their current waste tracking processes so that they are prepared for a transition to digital.


Thermal Road Repairs is a green technology company which supplies systems to improve the quality, cost and time efficiency of road repairs and paving – at a far lower environmental cost than traditional methods. It invests significantly in R&D, to create new technologies and to continuously improve existing ones.

Thermal Road Repairs: Decarbonising the asphalt repair industry.

High output. Low emission. Zero waste. Permanent solution.



14 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page