Making Walls Talk

Recycled Materials Resource Center


Over the past 15 years, State DOTs have made significant progress incorporating recycled materials and industrial byproducts in transportation infrastructure. Recycled materials add economic value, enhance service life, and promote sustainability by reducing emission of greenhouse gases, consumption of energy, and consumption of natural resource during construction. Despite these benefits, many recycled materials remain under-utilized due to technical and institutional barriers. The Recycled Materials Resource Center (RMRC) was created to assist State DOTs and FHWA in breaking down these barriers through research and outreach activities focused on the wise and safe use of recycled materials.

The initial RMRC was founded in 1998 at the University of New Hampshire through an agreement with FHWA based on a stipulation in TEA-21. In 2007, the RMRC was renewed as RMRC-2 as a joint venture between the University of New Hampshire (UNH) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW). RMRC-2 was awarded competitively and funded by FHWA and by a state pooled fund, TPF5(199), supported by Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New York and Wisconsin. The contract for RMRC-2 ended on 31 December 2011. TP5(199) could have been extend beyond this date, but an administrative decision was made to terminate TP5(199) on 31 December 2011, i.e., at the same time as the main contract for RMRC-2. FHWA had no immediate plans to create a follow-on version of the RMRC and is supportive of the formation of a follow-on pool fund by the states to continue the mission of RMRC.

State DOTs have developed considerable interest in using recycled materials in transportation construction and are seeking technical information regarding appropriate uses and best practices for existing and forthcoming recycled materials. The need for this information has never been greater. Thus, to maintain momentum regarding the use of recycled materials in transportation infrastructure, with emphasis on enhancing sustainability, service life, and cost savings, a new third-generation RMRC (RMRC-3G) as proposed by Wisconsin DOT began operation on 1 September 2012.

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