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From Purpose to Action: Building a Sustainable Future Together
Paving the Way for Resilient Transportation Infrastructure

Repairs and reconstruction are critical for improving the state of our country’s infrastructure. Advancements in elastomers and PCR plastics in asphalt can enhance road integrity, increase roads’ lifespan and pave the way for a circular economy.

Across North America, our roads play a crucial role in our infrastructure, and the state of our roads impacts everyone and everything — from people’s ability to socialize or get where they need in emergencies to a business’s supply chain. Without adequate roads, we cannot reach our destinations safely and efficiently.

Yet, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, growing wear and tear on our nation's roads has left 43 percent of our public roadways in poor or mediocre condition — a number that has remained stagnant over the past several years. Since the passing of the Biden Administration’s infrastructure bill, nearly $400 billion in funding for infrastructure-related projects has been announced.

With our roads’ integrity more crucial than ever, it’s time to advance progress on this critical infrastructure.

Premium materials are foundational for performance

By 2035, highway usage (and shipping by truck) is expected to double — leaving US drivers to spend an average of 160 hours a year in traffic. More importantly, with increasing heavy-duty vehicle traffic, roadways will wear down even faster — resulting in cracks and ruts. Therefore, North American roadways need pavement that combines exceptional durability with ease of application.

Leveraging cutting-edge materials that offer outstanding durability — effectively combating rutting, cracking and fatigue — will be critical to ensuring safe roads resistant to potholes and washouts. For example, Dow’s multi-functional elastomer, ELVALOY™ Reactive Elastomeric Terpolymers (RET), produces polymer-modified asphalt (PMA) that can withstand heavy traffic loads and variable weather conditions over time.

Third parties — including government agencies, industry groups and universities — have produced extensive test data demonstrating that ELVALOY™ RET has equivalent or improved performance versus traditional polymer modifiers such as block styrenic elastomers at lower dosages. ELVALOY™ RET slows down pavement deformation and resists damage from low and high temperatures and moisture, making it an investment for the long term.

However, advancing our roadways shouldn’t stop at performance. With continued emphasis on creating a sustainable future, we can create roads that are not only durable and resilient but that also promote circularity.

Driving circularity through PCR roads

As society continues to prioritize reducing its carbon footprint and the amount of waste in landfills, post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastics in asphalt are becoming a popular alternative to the more traditional ones. After all, the benefits are clear: reduced energy consumption, resurfacing needs and greenhouse gas emissions given the replacement of bitumen that would be used in road asphalt, as well as a second life for plastic waste.

Seeing the possibilities, Dow has continued to innovate its materials to address this need. For example, blending ELVALOY™ RET and polyethylene-rich PCR plastic with asphalt enables the creation of extremely durable, recycled polymer-modified asphalt (RPMA). Using RPMA to construct robust roads completes the cycle by transforming plastic waste into long-lasting roadways.

However, the adoption of asphalt with PCR plastics will be a huge undertaking and will take collaboration across the asphalt industry and beyond. Understanding this, Dow is working with government agencies, pavement developers and research institutions to advance the use of recycled plastic waste in road building processes.

In 2023, Dow joined the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA)’s Road Forward initiative, which aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions for the asphalt pavement industry. The company’s support will help fund NAPA’s ongoing research and education to aid the US asphalt industry in producing net-zero carbon-emission asphalt production and construction by 2050.

Repairs and reconstruction are critical for improving the state of our country’s infrastructure. Dow’s technology can enhance road integrity, increase roads’ lifespan and pave the way for a circular economy. With our partners, we’re on the road to revolutionizing the way we build and maintain transportation infrastructure today to endure for tomorrow.

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