One of the great things about all the information floating around out there is that certain messages eventually do get through to a lot of people. The importance of protecting the environment, for example. People may disagree on exactly what measures need to be taken, but it’s fair to say that most people want to make choices that respect the planet and don’t create unnecessary waste. Recycling is at an all-time high, and more people than ever are investing in hybrid and electric cars. These are all good things if you feel the environment is important.

But when you think of the most recyclable and reusable materials out there, what comes to mind? Soda cans? Paper bags? The truth is, one of the most recyclable materials out there is right beneath the wheels of your car: Asphalt. In fact, by tearing up or “milling” asphalt and re-processing it, professionals can use virtually 100% of the old material to create brand new asphalt for new projects. And when you think about how long asphalt typically lasts (20+ years, depending on usage and proper maintenance), this is truly an amazing fact.

Think about this: According to the most recent national data, the asphalt industry as a whole mills over 100 million tons of used asphalt on a yearly basis. Of that 100 million tons, around 95 million are recycled, becoming new material for roadways, bridges, driveways and walkways across the country. What’s more, other recyclable materials (such as used tires or old roofing shingles) can also be reclaimed and mixed into the asphalt to improve its quality.

It’s also worth knowing that aside from the asphalt material itself, the process of making asphalt uses a significantly lower amount of energy (estimates say about 20%) than other types of pavement. And the benefits don’t stop there. Because asphalt is so smooth and durable, it contributes to better fuel economy for vehicles across the board. The speed with which asphalt can be repaired is another factor, since traffic congestion can be minimized through timely repairs. It’s no exaggeration to say that when you add up all the benefits, asphalt is truly one of the most useful and environmentally sound materials out there. Even if you’re simply having a new asphalt driveway installed, you should be able to count on the fact that the material being used is at least partly recycled – and then when it finally comes time to mill your driveway 20 or 25 years down the road, the material will go straight back into the asphalt mill to create new material.

Choosing a professional

Take care when choosing an asphalt professional to handle your project, whether you’re milling an old asphalt service or creating a brand new surface for your home or business. If you’re environmentally conscious, don’t be afraid to ask questions of your contractor. Inquire about whether the material used for your project is recycled asphalt, or whether the material being milled from your site will itself be recycled. The answer to both of these questions should be yes. Since asphalt is one of the most recyclable and useful materials out there, any professional contractor should incorporate robust recycling policies into their asphalt projects.