Coal tar-containing asphalt: Resource or hazardous waste?

Publisher's full text
Karin Andersson
Bo Lind
Anna (Nystrom) Claesson
Lennart Larsson
Pascal Suer
Torbjom Jacobson

Coal tar was used in Sweden for the production of asphalt and for the drenching of stabilization gravel until 1973. The tar has high concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), some of which may be strongly carcinogenic. Approximately 20 million tonnes of tar-containing asphalt is present in the public roads in Sweden. Used asphalt from rebuilding can be classified as hazardous waste according to the Swedish Waste Act. The cost of treating the material removed as hazardous waste can be very high due to the large amount that has to be treated, and the total environmental benefit is unclear. The transport of used asphalt to landfill or combustion will affect other environmental targets. The present project, based on three case studies of road projects in Sweden, evaluates the consequences of four scenarios for handling the material: reuse, landfill, biological treatment, and incineration. The results show that reuse of the coal tar-containing materials in new road construction is the most favorable alternative in terms of cost, material use, land use, energy consumption, and air emissions.

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