Synthesis of State Department of Transportation (DOT) Procedures for Source Control and Verification of Recycled Construction Materials

Focus Area

Construction and Maintenance Practices


Environmental Process, Natural Resources







Research Idea Scope

TERI Database Administrator Notes.  Not recommended at present time by 2009 Natural Systems Subcommittee.

Problem Statement:

State DOTs are increasingly involved in making decisions regarding the reuse of wastes and industrial by-products as substitutes for their conventional materials. Currently there are many research efforts regarding material and environmental tests necessary to ensure the proper use of such materials.
However, waste generators and brokers often negotiate directly with material processors rather than the DOTs or their contractors. Waste materials may be blended with conventional materials and may be sold to Contractors without notification that the product contains recycled wastes. Without such notification, the DOTs may not apply the necessary environmental or material specifications necessary for a proper “due diligence” evaluation of the waste materials. Waste materials entering the conventional material stream unchecked increases the environmental and engineering liabilities of the State.
Proposed Research:
Survey the State DOTs to inquire about their material source control and verification protocols and procedures. Inquire about their use of material certifications, indemnification agreements, permitting, etc. related to the disclosure and use of recycled wastes and industrial by-products.

Note: Under RCRA, the requirement to purchase an EPA-designated product containing recovered materials applies to “procuring agencies” that spend more than $10,000 a year on that item. Procuring agencies include all federal agencies, and any state or local agency or government contractor that uses appropriated federal funds. For example, if a county agency spends more than $10,000 a year on an EPA-designated item, and part of that money is from appropriated federal funds, then the agency must purchase that item made from recovered materials. []

TERI Administrator Note (June 2007): Related Research
FHWA FY07 STEP Project: Environmental Benefits of Using Recycled Materials on Transportation Projects

The use of recycled materials during highway construction can offer measurable environmental, engineering, and economic benefits to States. Conversely, the beneficial reuse of such material can present real challenges. During the past few years, there has been a concentrated effort to elevate the use of recycled products in highway construction/reconstruction, operation, and maintenance activities. One of the hindrances in using recycled materials is a lack of complete understanding of the benefits, particularly the environmental benefits, of using recycled materials. Ongoing policy and program initiatives are indicative of the importance of using recycled materials and the need to fill existing gaps in knowledge. Research is needed to increase understanding of the environmental impacts and benefits of using recycled materials in highway construction. A greater understanding of the full impacts and expected level of performance of specific recycled materials, compared to virgin sources, will improve the decision making process, and aid environmental stewardship initiatives. The beneficial reuse of construction and industrial byproducts is one of the focus areas of the recently formed Green Highways Partnership (GHP). A better understanding of how specific recycled materials perform and interact with the environment will present options to transportation decision makers that will help them to maximize opportunities to conserve natural resources, increase green space, reduce the amount of wastes being sent to landfills, and minimize the negative impacts of highway construction on the environment.

Suggested By

2002 Research Needs Conference Idea David L. Boswell, P.E. Environmental Affairs Division Texas Department of Transportation

[email protected]