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The First US-India Workshop on Global Geoenvironmental Engineering Challenges, New Delhi, India, November 7, 2010

Towards Green Pavements in India

Sireesh Saride

Assistant Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad, India,

Umashankar Balunaini

Assistant Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad, India,


The socio-economic development of any community depends on how well the community is connected with the other communities around it. Without a proper road network, the government agencies such as schools, hospitals, and public service organizations cannot provide adequate services to the local communities; markets will remain limited; and agricultural growth will stagnate. In India, more than 80% of passenger traffic moves via roads. The Government of India (GoI) invests around 1,20,000 crores (approximately $26 billion) annually to build road network across the country. The GoI is envisioning building road networks of about 35,000 km long within the next 5 years by investments worth $60 billion (Mallick and Veeraragavan, 2010). Apart from the investment in developing new roads, state transportation agencies spend thousands of crores of rupees annually to maintain and rehabilitate the existing pavements. For example, in the United States, transportation agencies across the nation spend about $155 million annually for maintenance and rehabilitation of roads alone (Saride et al., 2010). These figures clearly demonstrate that the roads are an important component of the worlds’ transportation infrastructure and economy, thus calling for sustainable designs and construction methodologies to ensure optimized pavement construction.

To note, about 15,000 tons of natural aggregates are required to build every one kilometer stretch of a highway in India. In the US, annually about 1,300 million tons of natural aggregates are being used in the pavement construction (Mallick and Veeraragavan, 2010). The pavement industry is not only consuming humongous amounts of natural resources worldwide but also is responsible for 22% of the global energy consumption, 25% of fossil fuel burning across the world and 30% of global air pollution and greenhouse gases (GHG) production. If these adverse effects are not taken into account during design and construction phases of pavements, the future mankind will be in danger. One of the alternatives available is to recycle the pavement materials and use them in the pavement construction. In India, the concept of recycling the existing

The First US-India Workshop on Global Geoenvironmental Engineering Challenges, New Delhi, India, November 7, 2010

pavements has not gained much popularity. The demolished older pavement materials are usually dumped in landfills posing serious environmental disposal problems.

Current state-of-the-art and Current state-of-the-practice– Recycling of Waste Materials

Numerous waste materials are produced across the world every year, it is estimated that over 1000 million tons, which include but not limited to huge amounts of construction and demolition waste, quarry by-products and municipal waste, are produced annually. If these materials are not reused properly, these materials will be stockpiled near the source of production or in landfills leading to environmental disposal problems. The use of recycled or secondary materials in pavement construction is gaining popularity for their added advantages over conventional materials including conservation of natural resources, conservation of energy, preservation of the environment, reduction in life-cycle costs, and also reducing the use of oil-based hydrocarbon binders.

In the United States alone, the total recycling process stream is estimated to be around 800 million tons per annum. More than 50 million tons of asphalt paving material is milled annually (Taha et al. 1999). The recycled materials market, comprised of reclaimed asphalt pavements, light weight aggregates, fly ash, and quarry by-products, is estimated to be between 352 and 859 million tons per year. The annual production of quarry by-products alone amounts to 175 million tons and these by-products are used in many geotechnical applications such as flowable fills and embankment fills (Collins and Ciesielski, 1994). Utilisation of alternate materials in place of conventional materials, recycling, and energy efficiencies are main applications of sustainability in geotechnical engineering (Abreu et al., 2008).

In the United Kingdom, a recent study by waste and resources action program (WRAP) estimates that construction, demolition, and excavation waste production alone accounts for 120 million tons per annum. This program also estimates that at least 20% of the unused waste is landfilled every year. At least 41 million tons of quarry by-products are produced annually (Manning, 2004). The construction and demolition waste alone deposited about 70 million tons every year in landfills, out of which around 15% of the recycled/secondary materials are being used by the highway agencies in road construction (Lambert et al., 2006).

Reid and Chandler (2001) summarized the production rates, availability of alternate materials and their potential use in pavement construction applications in UK. Chesner et al. (2003) have summarized a list of by-products that has a significant application in road construction. Table 1 shows the list of recycled materials that may be used in pavement construction. To increase recycling efforts and to address sustainability in pavement construction sector, it is extremely crucial to identify potential recycled/secondary materials and investigate their properties to find promising applications in Civil Engineering construction.

The First US-India Workshop on Global Geoenvironmental Engineering Challenges, New Delhi, India, November 7, 2010

Table 1 Recycled Materials/Byproducts and their Application in Pavement Construction (modified after Chesner, 2003)





Asphalt Concrete

Portland Cement Concrete

Stabilized Bases

Granular Base

Embankment Fill

Baghouse Fines

Blast Furnace Slag

Coal Bottom Ash/Slag

Coal Fly Ash

Flue Gas Scrubber Material


Foundry Sands

Kiln Dusts

Mineral Processing Wastes

Municipal Combustor Ash

Nonferrous Slags

Quarry By-products


Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement

Reclaimed Concrete Pavement


Roofing Shingle Scrap

Scrap Tires

Sewage Sludge Ash

Steel Slag

Waste Glass

To improve the sustainability, design procedures should be developed based upon the performance instead of demanding for a standard material use. However, the recycled/secondary materials reclaimed from standard materials may have several issues related to either environmental issues or socio-economic concerns and hence, before adopting these

The First US-India Workshop on Global Geoenvironmental Engineering Challenges, New Delhi, India, November 7, 2010

recycled/secondary materials in any construction industry must be addressed through a simple sustainability indicators (Jefferson et al., 2007; Jefferis, 2008). The main indicator for the sustainable geotechnical work is the awareness of the amount of waste generated in civil engineering works. Another tool like life-cycle assessment is helpful in the material and processes selection phase at design office, whereas, different indicators are needed for use in the site (Saride et al 2010). Alkins et al. (2008) highlighted that the adoption of coal in place recycling of existing pavements can reduce construction related greenhouse gases (GHG) emission as high as 50% when compared to conventional pavement rehabilitation techniques such as milling and asphalt overlay of distressed pavements.

Out of the several secondary materials listed in Table 1, reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) aggregates and quarry products have been most significantly used in the pavement industry. Extensive research has been carried out on only these two recycled materials. These materials are directly adopted either in their raw form or when modified with calcium based stabilizers to improve their mechanical properties.

Overall, limited information is available on various other potential recycled materials to utilize them in the pavement industry. Surely there is a research need to characterize the whole range of recycled materials available for their mechanical performance.

Emerging global geoenvironmental challenges and opportunities

As discussed in the previous sections, the production/generation rate of waste is alarming and its optimal utilization is vital. Developed nations such as US and UK, have standardized the procedures to utilize some of the recycled and secondary materials in pavement construction to reduce the carbon foot print and to promote sustainability in the pavement construction. Though the list of available recycled/secondary materials is long, in practice, not all the materials are being utilized in pavement industry to their fullest extent. Currently, extensive research has been carried out in US on full-depth reclamation of asphalt pavements, utilization of reclaimed asphalt pavements and quarry by-products. However, there is a research need to explore the vast list of recycled materials to make them suitable for utilization in pavement construction in huge volumes. Coming to the Indian scenario, more than 90% of the pavements are asphalt concrete pavements. During rehabilitation and maintenance operations, either the old pavement materials are removed and dumped in a landfill or a new layer is paved on top of the existing pavement. Both the methods are not sustainable as in the first case, there is an acute problem associated with landfilling and in the latter case, the thickness of the pavements are unnecessarily being increased with respect to the existing natural ground level. The latter case eventually produces the same environmental disposal problems since at one point the lower layers may not structurally strong enough to support the surface layers. Then the whole pavement must be removed and disposed off to lay a new pavement.

Hence, there is a need to improve the pavement design and construction methodologies in India. What is that we can do about it? I feel that we should bring awareness of ‘recycling processes’ to Indian pavement industry. To achieve this, I propose the following:

The First US-India Workshop on Global Geoenvironmental Engineering Challenges, New Delhi, India, November 7, 2010

1. Organize workshops to transfer the knowledge from research to the industry. Invite participants from the industry especially from the local transportation agencies

2. Involve collaborative research between Indian and the US counterparts on various recyclable/secondary materials

3. Perform extensive laboratory testing to evaluate various available recyclable materials as a pavement construction material

4. Develop performance based design methodologies for the recycled/secondary materials considered in this study

5. Demonstrate the beneficial uses of recyclable materials in highway construction through field performance monitoring of sections built with recyclable materials

6. Develop a database of all the recyclable materials that can potentially be used in pavements, along with their properties relevant for pavement design

Potential US-India collaborative projects and partnerships

Lessons can be learned from matured pavement design methodologies which were developed and followed over years in the US. US-India workshops may be organised to transfer such knowledge from academia to the practitioners. Collaborative research may be pursued to explore more recycled materials such as flyash and bottom ash to utilize them in pavement construction. Since the disposal of fly ash is an issue and common interest of India as well as US.

Expertise, research interests and organization’s facilities

Current research interests of the group include pavement geotechnics, sustainable pavement designs, life-cycle cost analysis, soil-structure interaction problems, recycled waste management. Being a young Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), IIT Hyderabad is setting up state-of-the-art geotechnical engineering laboratory which includes cyclic triaxial systems, dynamic actuator with loading rig facility, conventional test equipment to characterize soils and aggregates, resonant column, SASW, GPR, fatigue testing facility, XRD, SEM, etc. IITH has also access to the geotechnical and general FEM and FED software packages such as FLAC 2D/3D, PLAXIS 2D/3D, GeoStudio Professional, ABAQUS, ANSYS. Apart from the laboratory equipment, IITH is also planning to procure field instrumentation such as inclinometers, extensometers, and moisture and pressure sensors, etc. for field monitoring studies.


Abreu, D. G., Jefferson, I., Braithwaite, P. A. and Chapman, D.N. (2008) Why is Sustainability is Important in Geotechnical Engineering. Geosustainability and Geohazard Mitigation, Geo Congress 2008, ASCE, GSP 178, pp. 821-828.

Chesner, W.H., Simon, M.J. and Eighmy, T. T. (2001) Recent Federal Initiatives for Recycled Materials use in Highway construction in the United States. Beneficial use of Recycled Materials in Transportation Applications, November 13-15, 2001, pp. 3-10.

The First US-India Workshop on Global Geoenvironmental Engineering Challenges, New Delhi, India, November 7, 2010

Collins, R. J. and Ciesilski, S. K. (1994). Recycling and Use of Waste Materials and By-Products in Highway Construction. Synthesis of Highway Practice 199, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1–77.

Lambert, P, Fleming, P. R, and Frost, M. W. (2006) Material testing for Sustainable Pavement Foundation Design. In the Proceedings of Civil Engineers, Construction Materials, 2006, CM 4, Vol. 159, pp. 139-146.

Mallick, R. B., Veeraragavan, A. (2010). Sustainable Pavements in India-The time to start is now. New Building Materials and Construction World (NBM&CW) Magazine, Vol. 16, No. 3, pp. 128-140.

Manning, D. (2004). Exploration and Use of Quarry Fines. Mineral Solutions, Report No. 087/MIST2/DACM/01, MIST project reference: MA/2/4/003, Manchester, Published in


Reid, M. J., and Chandler, J. W. E. (2001) Recycling in transportation infrastructure. TRL Limited, Crowthorne, 2001.

Saride, S., Puppala, A. J., and Williammee, R. (2010) Assessing Recycled/Secondary Materials as Pavement Bases, Special issue on Sustainability in Ground Improvement Projects, Proceedings of ICE, Ground Improvement, February 2010, Vol. GI 163, Issue GI1, pp. 3-12.

Taha, R. Ali, G. Basma, A. and Al-Turk, O. (1999). Evaluation of Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement Aggregate in Road Bases and Subbases. Transportation Research Record 1652, 1, 7th Int. Conf. on Low-Volume Roads, National Research Council, Washington, D.C., 264–269.