Entering the mix

Features - Concrete & Asphalt Recycling

Legislation in the state of Illinois has promoted the use of recycled asphalt shingles and other secondary materials on several paving projects statewide.

February 19, 2014

In 2009, an Illinois law, the IL Public Act 096-0489 passed. This new legislation allowed for Beneficial Use Determination (BUD) status permitting the handling of materials previously classified as waste to be returned to the economic mainstream without the legal siting requirements of a solid waste transfer station.

This action spawned recycling industries in Illinois and has encouraged private-sector innovation and job growth in the most difficult economic climate in recent history. Reclaimed asphalt shingles (RAS) are now among the materials allowed to be recycled in Illinois, a petroleum resource that was harvested by neighboring states for nearly a decade.

In a previously undeveloped market in Illinois, Southwind RAS LLC, Bartlett, Ill., began providing the asphalt paving industry with what it positioned as a cost-saving green alternative that can enhance pavement performance, extend local municipal budgets and reduce carbon footprints of construction projects statewide.

C&D markets, just like the rest of the markets in Chicago, are ultra competitive. Rail, waterways and highways make all commodities mobile. The RAS business model could not be built on customers paying high tipping fees. It needed to sustain itself on high-quality final products and a consistent supply.

Illinois passed, and Governor Pat Quinn signed into law, Public Act 097-0314 that established the following:

  1. C&D facilities (IEPA [Illinois Environmental Protection Agency] 22.38) would receive double credit for each ton of shingles recycled according to BUD criteria against the 75 percent recycling goal.
  2. Require Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to report to the Illinois legislature on the goal of recycling in construction and to maximize recycled content and warm-mix technology; with consideration for life-cycle cost.
  3. Asphalt production facilities may only use RAS in the production of asphalt paving materials from IL BUD-certified sources in accordance with IEPA air permit standards.

Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, IDOT District 1, and S.T.A.T.E. Testing LLC, East Dundee, Ill., worked cooperatively to develop a specification that would eventually emerge statewide in 2012. This specification allowed for the asphalt binder replacement levels (ABR percent) necessary to capture the economic savings of RAS usage and fractionalized of asphalt pavement (FRAP).

As of Jan. 10, 2014, the Central Bureau of Design has drafted the most progressive stance on asphalt binder replacement in asphalt mixtures in the state’s history in furtherance of the goal to maximize recycled content (see diagram below).


Based on sound mix design engineering, mixture performance of submitted mix designs to IDOT using RAS and FRAP have a perfect record on the pavement rut stress test, the Hamburg Wheel.

Illinois taxpayers save money every day on construction projects for high-traffic pavements, stone matrix asphalt (SMA). Previously requiring the use of additive cellulose fibers and lots of foreign oil, RAS has reduced the cost of the most expensive pavement type by more than 10 percent. Improved surface drainage, reduced noise and long-lasting SMA is the new asphalt pavement in the United States. European countries have used this pavement type for decades with high levels of success in their highway system and local roads.

Innovation in the Windy City

The city of Chicago paved the Magnificent Mile, one of the most heavily loaded bus routes in the country, with a revolutionary SMA that included RAS, FRAP and ground tire rubber (GTR). The project earned recognition by the National Asphalt Pavement Association (See sidebar below.)

In addition, residential streets in Chicago are among the greenest in the nation. An IDOT-approved innovative mixture allows for more than 60 percent ABR and very high levels of aggregate substitution from FRAP.

Illinois Tollway users enjoy an overall more sustainable construction program each and every year. Current full-depth concrete roadways sit on a stabilized base course of asphalt pavement with more than 50 percent of the liquid asphalt recovered from sustainable sources. I-88, I-294, I-355 and I-90 all were resurfaced in recent years with asphalt pavement that included RAS in the mixture.

Earning Recognition

The National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) recently honored the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) for the 2011 repaving of North Michigan Ave., which made extensive use of recycled materials, calling it “an outstanding example of breaking new ground in developing environmentally responsible pavements.”

CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein accepted the inaugural “NAPA Environmental Leadership Award” on behalf of Mayor Rahm Emanuel during the NAPA Midyear Meeting held in Chicago in July 2012.

“The use of recycled ingredients has the potential to lower costs for taxpayers, improve quality and significantly reduce the use of natural resources,” Klein said. “The new Michigan Ave. street surface is expected to withstand years of Chicago’s traffic and weather while looking good for the thousands of people who work, shop and live on the Magnificent Mile.”

Faced with a tight budget, a short construction timeline and a crumbling roadway, CDOT worked with engineering and materials testing firm S.T.A.T.E. Testing to devise a stone-matrix asphalt (SMA) pavement mix that made use of recycled asphalt shingles, reclaimed asphalt pavement and ground tire rubber. SMA pavements are built to hold up to heavy traffic, but including this level and combination of recycled materials in an SMA was an innovative idea that created a stronger pavement at a lower cost, according to the city of Chicago.

The repaving job used rubber from 2,200 tires, discarded shingles from about 130 houses and 24 truckloads of reclaimed asphalt pavement. According to an analysis using the Project Emissions Estimator software developed at Michigan Technological University, the use of the recycled materials reduced carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by 24 percent for the project.

“Most people aren’t aware that the roads they drive on are increasingly being made with resource-responsible materials. Chicago deserves the Environmental Leadership Award for the way it put innovative thinking into practice on Michigan Avenue,” said Mike Acott, president of NAPA.

Statewide leadership from Peoria-area leaders, Illinois State Sen. Dave Koehler and Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis form a business landscape that is friendly to new business. Through their efforts and the active community groups engaged in recycling, RAS will be in more pavements around the Peoria area in the coming construction season. United Contractors Midwest of Illinois showed its commitment to innovation and sustainability and adapted its plant in Peoria to use RAS and FRAP ahead of the market.

Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, Sen. Martin Sandoval, is a driving force in Illinois to create jobs through recycling and to create savings in the public bidding process as a result of greater recycled content in the asphalt mixtures statewide.

Through his leadership, and the contributions of many others, more than 500,000 cubic yards of landfill space has been conserved and the roofs of approximately 300,000 homes have been returned to the economic mainstream in the local roadway pavements since 2011.

Southwind RAS continues to expand across the state of Illinois and to provide what it says is a high-quality product to meet local asphalt producers’ needs. Decades of experience in recycling and construction has enabled Southwind to create a business that is locally beneficial to residents and the roofing industry and is extending the budgets of cash-strapped municipalities. Its products are approved by the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, Illinois DOT and FAA for airport taxiway and runway projects.

Paving the way

The village of Bartlett, home to Southwind RAS’s flagship operation, recently completed paving of its residential streets using an IDOT-approved mixture for use in surface pavements. These streets are a sustainable construction method; with more than 35 percent overall recycled content and ABR. Reduced-bid pricing from estimate has allowed the village to expand the scope of the resurfacing program.

Local residents benefit through the network of recycling facilities that Southwind RAS has developed across Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Locations in East St. Louis, Decatur, Peoria, Springfield, Rockford (South Beloit), Chicago, Lake in the Hills, Bartlett, Lyons, Romeoville and Thornton, give opportunities to homeowners or disposal contractors to save money on recycling their shingles rather than dumping them in the landfill. Southwind RAS’ facilities often are located closer to the tear-off project than local transfer stations or landfills.

All materials processed under the BUD (IEPA 22.54) are visually inspected by a trained IDPH building inspector for presence of hazardous materials (e.g. asbestos). The material is tested again for asbestos after processing in order to certify shipment to projects. IEPA requires asphalt producers to only use BUD-approved RAS in their plants to comply with air permit requirements.

In addition, Southwind works with local C&D haulers and processors to recycle shingles to a local end user rather than landfilling or shipping the material across state lines. This can save the local user money because the C&D operator has a consistent outlet to recycle material at a low cost. As the economy improves, a “double credit” for the tons of RAS recycled in Illinois will help C&D (IEPA 22.38) operators meet their mandated annual percentage of 75 percent.

Illinois is continuing to implement programs that encourage the recycling of asphalt shingles. Legislature has passed SB2226 that bans landfills from accepting shingles if they are within 25 miles of a BUD-certified recycling location. This further protects the landfill resources for the Illinois citizen. As a resource to asphalt producers, this source of RAS offsets approximately one-third of the foreign oil required for an asphalt project in Illinois.

States across the country should look to Illinois’ new measures in recycling asphalt shingles as a model to create jobs in the private sector, reduce the cost of each lane-mile of pavement and to reduce the carbon footprint of construction projects locally.


The author is president of Abbott Logistics Inc., Bartlett, Ill., a developer of asphalt shingle recycling facilities for Bartlett, Ill.-based Southwind RAS LLC.

For a video further detailing Illinois’ efforts to incorporate recycled asphalt shingles (RAS) into paving materials, visit www.CDRecycler.com/illinois-recycled-asphalt-shingles-video.aspx.