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Winds of change: Cargill’s asphalt rejuvenator makes Dutch roads and cycling paths more sustainable 

June 27, 2019

With more than 22,000 miles of cycling paths in the Netherlands, perhaps nothing other than windmills is more quintessentially Dutch than riding a bicycle.

For a country that prides itself on being forward-thinking in terms of sustainability and the environment, cycling makes sense. It also makes sense that all those miles of paths should be made as sustainably as possible.

That’s where Klaas de Jonge comes in. He’s the manager at an asphalt plant in Staphorst operated by KWS-Infra, a subsidiary of the biggest paver of paths and roadways in the country. He loves his job, because as he puts it, “We’re connecting the Netherlands.”

Thanks to a Cargill bioindustrial ingredient called Anova™ asphalt rejuvenator, Klaas and his company can make asphalt with fewer impacts on the environment. It’s also more durable and ends up costing KWS-Infra less, because the company can recycle a larger amount of old asphalt into the new mix.

This is in line with what KWS-Infra’s main customer wants. That would be the Dutch government, which is increasingly awarding contracts to companies that can lower emissions and recycle more materials.

The Anova line of paving products comes from Cargill’s Bioindustrial Group, which is strategically focused on replacing petroleum-based products with bio-based ones for industrial and consumer uses. 

“We have a broad approach to innovation, from finding new uses for existing products to breakthrough creations like the Anova line,” said Colleen May, president of the Cargill Bioindustrial Group.

A new use for old roads

Asphalt typically lasts about 10 to 20 years. It reaches a breaking point when the bitumen – a petroleum product that functions like glue holding the stones together – becomes brittle. Cue the cracks and potholes.

Traditionally, only about 20% to 40% of the old asphalt can be recycled once it’s scraped up.

But Anova asphalt rejuvenator changes that equation. It adds bio-based rejuvenators to the old bitumen in the asphalt and reverses the impacts of aging. This allows recycled asphalt to be added at higher rates into the mix for new pavement, sometimes up to 100%.

“Anova makes bitumen almost endlessly recyclable,” said Jan Struik, Cargill’s senior business developer and account manager for asphalt in the Bioindustrial Group. “It turns asphalt into a circular product.”

Plus, using Anova allows companies like KWS-Infra to produce new asphalt at lower temperatures, which means fewer CO2 emissions in the process. Also important to KWS-Infra is the fact that Anova doesn’t require asphalt facilities to change their processes.

All of these are reasons why Anova has become popular in the U.S. as well, where asphalt is the country’s most-recycled product.

Growing from the ground up

At the Staphorst plant, Anova has allowed Klaas and KWS-Infra to increase the amount of recycled asphalt by double-digit percentages. This makes their new asphalt more cost effective and environmentally friendly, both of which appeal to the Dutch government.

KWS-Infra has become more competitive in winning government tenders for road projects, and the Staphorst plant is now making about 300,000 tons of asphalt per year. Anova also is helping the company make progress toward its goal of being 100% circular and carbon neutral by 2040.

“It has been a big year for us,” Klaas said. “Sales are up, and it’s a cleaner, better-quality product.”