UK's first carbon neutral road improvement project completed
Contractors for Highways England have completed the project in south Cumbria, laying over 1,000 tonnes of Foamix asphalt every night and working across 24 hours in two shifts to minimise disruption to the local area and meeting key deadlines.
A E Yates worked with aggregate supplier Aggregate Industries and designers Amey on the landmark resurfacing project between junction 6 and Brettarg Holt on the M6. By using a Foamix asphalt to allow for extensive asphalt recycling, the project met its ambitious carbon reduction targets to achieve carbon neutral results.
Road surface recycling
Foamix is a process that blends carefully selected ingredients with a foam of water and asphalt to ensure ultimate performance according to Aggregate Industries. It's a system that's capable of using up to 95% recycled materials and was put to good use on the M6 project where existing road surface planings were recycled as part of a cold batched asphalt that captured 43% more carbon than conventional resurfacing schemes.
The project showcased Aggregate Industries' newly launched SuperLow asphalt, which is currently the only carbon-neutral asphalt available in the UK. SuperLow technology ensures that the asphalt is produced at lower temperatures ensuring reduced carbon levels. The remaining carbon is then offset by purchasing credits from Circular Ecology, a not-for-profit carbon offsetting specialist.
Of the 50,000 tonnes of material extracted over a six week period, 39,000 tonnes were recycled back into the project. That includes 27,000 tonnes of Foamix laid using wide pavers and over 11,000 tonnes of asphalt. Another 20,000 tonnes will be used on the A590 Cross-a-Moor roundabout scheme to meet sustainability targets.
Dedicated site batch mixing
In order to ensure a continuous and consistent supply of the carbon-neutral Foamix material the project made use of a dedicated SiteBatch mixing plant. This was installed on site allowing the team to work split shifts over 24 hours allowing the works to stay ahead of all critical deadlines.
The mixing plant was supported by a fleet of articulated trucks delivering the planings for recycling and taking away the material to the site. A number of advanced site operating procedures were put in place so that construction could continue in safety during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Greener road surfacing
Aggregate Industries is the first building materials supplier in the world to commit to being carbon net-zero by 2050, in line with UK government targets. CEO Guy Edwards called the M6 project a 'landmark achievement' and said completing the UK's first carbon-neutral pavement scheme was proof of their commitment to achieving their goal.
By working collaboratively during the early contractor development stage, Edwards continues, Aggregate Industries had been able to identify a low-carbon approach from the off. This in turn allowed the scheme to deliver significant environmental and cost benefits and established a best practice approach that will inform the future of green road resurfacing.
Edwards believes that a more collaborative approach across the industry will make a real difference in delivering essential infrastructure projects. Aggregate Industries are currently expanding their range of low impact, environmentally aware products and services helping to ensure safer, smoother and more sustainable road journeys in future.