MU researchers develop sustainable asphalt using recycled plastic

In a collaboration with MODOT, the MU College of Engineering have developed a new pavement mixture that utilizes recycled plastic

Aug. 27, 2021


Pate McCuine: As roads and bridges continue to age across Missouri and the United States, and the environment continues to diminish, state departments of transportation are always looking for innovative ways to help improve the nation’s infrastructure in a safe, sustainable way. University of Missouri researchers are working to knock out two birds with one stone.

The University of Missouri is partnering with MODOT to test the use of recycled plastic waste in a new sustainable asphalt pavement mixture. Bill Buttlar, the Glen Barton Chair in Flexible Pavements in the MU College of Engineering, said this mixture is a new development in the state of Missouri.

Buttlar: “Waste plastic recycling into asphalt has been done internationally, but it hasn’t made its way into the US market until recent years, so this will be the first demonstration in the state of Missouri for waste plastic recycling.”

McCuine: Once the previous pavement was removed, Buttlar and MODOT officials evaluated the entire road surface, and began pouring the test mixture this week. Buttlar says that he expects this new pavement mixture will wear down slower than mixtures that were previously applied to the road surface.

Buttlar: “We expect that to be greatly mitigated this time or greatly slowed down with these high performing recycled overlay asphalt mixtures.”

For more on this innovative collaboration visit

McCuine: I’m Pate McCuine with a Spotlight on Mizzou.

Learn more about the research here

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