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Highways England is increasing its use of warm mix asphalts (WMAs) as part of the government’s commitment to its net-zero plan.

The government-owned company has been using WMAs since 2015 because it produces fewer emissions, which makes it safer for the environment. The temperature difference compared to hot mix asphalts could mean a CO2 saving of up to 15%.

Recently, better supply chains and increased research has made the material more available. The move will also improve working conditions for those in road maintenance since they will be exposed to fewer fumes.

Warm mix asphalts are easier to transport and can be laid at a slower pace, making them easier to use across large areas. In light of this, Highways England is now encouraging the use of WMAs across the entire Strategic Road Network (SNR). 

Malcolm Dare, Highways England’s director of commercial and procurement, said: “This is a big step forward for Highways England that allows us to not only achieve huge efficiency savings but also reduce carbon as we strive for net-zero.”

WMAs also benefit from being more durable than traditional asphalts, which could potentially lead to a reduction in maintenance. A reduction in cooling time means that productivity is increased, too, as more material can be laid in a single session.

Rick Green, chair of Asphalt Industry Alliance, was also positive about the move. He said: “It will reduce time and costs associated with seeking departures and will also help pave the way for the wider acceptance of WMAs on local roads which represent 97% of the total network – delivering scalable carbon reduction benefits”.

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