Life Cycle Inventory: Bitumen


Eurobitume has published a “cradle to gate” Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) of bitumen. The new 2011 publication is an updated version of the 1999 edition and describes the impact of the production of the paving grade bitumens, polymer modified bitumen and bitumen emulsions. This LCI has been developed in accordance with European and ISO standards, and has been independently peer reviewed.

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Bitumen and the Environment

Bitumen is a non-ecologically toxic product which presents no danger to plant and aquatic environments.

Due to its longevity, bitumen can be recycled, as is common practice with asphalt roads and paving. The use of "old" road material (RAP) as a component in making fresh asphalt is relatively common practice. The asphalt specifications indicate the amount allowed and the methods to calculate the contribution of the old (hardened) bitumen to the new mixture.

Roads can be recycled by two main processes:

In-situ - where the broken-up "old" road material is re-formed into (a part of) the new structure.

Off-site ­ where the RAP is taken to a plant to be used as a component of a new mixture.

The process is environmentally friendly because it saves on waste disposal, and also saves on the use of new resources (aggregate and bitumen).

Eurobitume UK, through its Health, Safety and Environmental Committee, reviews and develops operational activities and procedures which are environmentally sympathetic. Eurobitume UK also works closely with the Environment Agency in the drafting of Process Guidance Notes which establish fume emission levels and controls for bitumen.

Asphalt Pavement Embodied Carbon Tool (asPECT)ASPECT_Logo

The 2008-11 Collaborative Research Programme, a joint initiative of the Highways Agency, Mineral Products Association and Eurobitume UK, has produced a methodology to calculate the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions or ‘carbon footprint’ of asphalt used in highways. The project was further endorsed by the Waste & Resources Action Programme and ADEPT. 

asPECT provides documentation and a calculator tool to enable producers of road materials and contractors to use standard protocols to calculate carbon dioxide equivalent emissions associated with different bitumen bound mixtures. 

To view asPECT, the carbon footprint calculator for asphalt products, please click here

General Information

Material Safety Data Sheets, available from bitumen suppliers, provide environmental information pertaining to specific products.

Eurobitume UK and its member companies can offer advice and on-site guidance in assessing the environmental impact of bitumen processes and procedures.

For information on bitumen storage with respect to the Oil Storage Regulations 2001, please click here: http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/business/topics/oil/32014.aspx

For more information contact the Eurobitume UK Technical Office.