Lafarge Tarmac and Carbon Trust launch low energy road building materials with potential to save industry £46m

Today, the Carbon Trust and Lafarge Tarmac announced the findings of a three year study to improve the carbon efficiency of the manufacture of road materials, which has the potential to save the UK road industry £46.2m in energy costs over the next ten years. 

The project has lifted market barriers for the use of lower temperature asphalt used in road construction, which reduces energy costs, as well as cutting carbon emissions by up to 39%.  The conventional road material, commonly used across the UK, is made by bonding aggregates and bitumen into asphalt by heating them to temperatures of 180°C – 190°C.  This project successfully trialled the use of a ‘Low Temperature Asphalt’ (LTA) material, which allows mixing and working at lower temperatures.  It bonds road materials as effectively as the conventional method, but using much lower temperatures and less energy. 

The trial has enabled the project team to develop specifications for use, which will help accelerate the production and adoption of lower temperature asphalts.  The project was led by Lafarge Tarmac and the Carbon Trust (within its Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator (IEEA) Programme).  Funding came from Lafarge Tarmac and the Carbon Trust (via the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) and support from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.

Roads are the lifeblood of economic prosperity: they connect people to jobs and business to markets. There is tremendous potential for this project, given the scheduled improvements to our major roads and motorways. This programme is an example of how by establishing new models of working, we can unblock demand-supply stand-offs, to help the UK to deliver the infrastructure of the future, at a lower cost for taxpayers and the climate.

- Al-Karim Govindji, Technology Acceleration Manager, the Carbon Trust

As a leader in sustainable construction solutions, we want to use our expertise to help bring these solutions to our clients and customers. This project with the Carbon Trust will help unlock barriers to bring lower temperature asphalt into wider use, cutting energy use, reducing CO2 emissions and enabling us to deliver projects more quickly for clients. It will take time for these materials to become available, but as producers follow our lead and adopt this technology, there will be a growing movement to embrace LTAs as direct replacements for conventional hot asphalts.

- Martin Riley, Managing Director for Lafarge Tarmac’s Asphalt and Aggregates Business


If the new specification is adopted and low temperature asphalt market achieves 21% of the total UK asphalt market over the next decade, it could save £46.2m and around 260,000 tonnes of COduring the manufacturing of these materials over the next 10 years[1].  This would create the equivalent carbon savings of taking more than 345,000 cars off the road.

The new specification is also of great importance to the Highway Authorities, especially those that have set targets for the reduction of carbon emissions.  For example, the West Midlands Highway Alliance, which represents 14 of the region's Local Authorities with a combined annual spend of over £400m, launched a concordat in September 2013 to reduce COemissions in the production of road and footway materials by 20% by 2015.


On the 30th September, the WMHA committed to reduce carbon emissions from the production of road and footway materials by 20% by 2015. Preparations are well underway to deliver this programme following a number of practical workshops attended by clients, contractors and suppliers. It is anticipated that over 300,000 tonnes of low temperature asphalt will be laid by 2015.

- Keith Gordon, Assistant Director Efficiency & Delivery from the West Midlands Highway Alliance (WMHA)

This pioneering project and the development of the national specification for LTA will fundamentally change the asphalt industry in the UK, producing sustainable low carbon products. We are delighted to be working with the Carbon Trust on leading this exciting project together with our partners, and key senior members from the Highway Authorities in the UK and the Department for Transport. The developed specification will assist clients to procure these materials as standard products and that feedback from their use will inform the future development of the European Standards. There are considerable carbon savings to be gained from using lower temperature asphalt, reduced traffic management time and less disruption to the road users which can all be translated into cost savings.

- Dr Nizar Ghazireh, the project director at Lafarge Tarmac

 Other project partners include Nynas UK, Atkins, MIRO and TRL.  Out of the project a new specification, open to all manufacturers, has been published by The Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) in October 2013, enabling LTA mixtures to be designed and specified.  The outcome from this project is likely to generate significant interest from both local and national highways authorities and their supply chain, given it proves the efficiency of road building can be enhanced without compromising performance. 

Whilst the lower temperature asphalt technology is available today, the market shift to adopt it will be gradual, as companies need to invest significant capital in installing equipment; thus the energy savings from producing LTA will accrue over time.  As more customers adopt lower temperature materials, and more plants can be switched over, this is when the real benefits will be seen, both in terms of reducing the cost of these materials and reducing carbon. The more it is used, the greater the impact as this is when the benefits could be realised.

Low temperature technology offers many benefits, both in terms of sustainability and saving from project efficiencies. For example they can help to reduce the duration of works on road schemes with associated potential safety benefits for both the travelling public and the workforce.  This may be particularly relevant on large-scale resurfacing of heavily congested schemes where there is a significant period of time involved waiting for materials to reach the appropriate trafficking temperature.


Carbon reduction is all about innovation – you only get different results by doing things differently – it’s that simple.

- Doug Sinclair, Major Projects Portfolio Office Director, Highways Agency

Nynas has been developing low temperature technologies with its customers in Europe for over 20 years. We are proud to have continued our tradition by working with Lafarge Tarmac on this very successful and pioneering project.

- Jim Christie, Business Area Director at Nynas UK


The report follows a recent announcement by transport minister Robert Goodwill that £1.9bn will be invested in British roads in 2014; providing an economic boost of more than £18.8bn, as well as creating almost 10,000 jobs.  Efficiency is central to the Department for Transport’s ‘Action for Roads’ policy, which intends to generate efficiency savings of £2.6bn over the next 10 years.

Each year throughout the UK approximately 22 million tonnes of asphalt[2] is manufactured and laid.  The carbon footprint for asphalt manufacture is estimated at 24 kg CO2/tonne11 which, when combined with the embedded carbon in the aggregate and the bitumen, rises to 40 kg/CO2/tonne[3].  The total UK carbon footprint associated with the asphalt industry is estimated at 786,000 tonnes of CO2/year[4] which is the equivalent to 5,000 km driven by a million average family cars[5]. 


For further information please contact the Carbon Trust press office on 020 7170 7050 or email

About the Carbon Trust

The Carbon Trust is an independent company with a mission to accelerate the move to a sustainable, low-carbon economy. The Carbon Trust:

  • advises businesses, governments and the public sector on opportunities in a sustainable, low-carbon world;
  • measures and certifies the environmental footprint of organisations, products and services;
  • helps develop and deploy low-carbon technologies and solutions, from energy efficiency to renewable power

Notes to editors:

About Lafarge Tarmac:

Lafarge Tarmac is the UK’s leading sustainable building materials group. Our innovative products, solutions and services not only deliver the infrastructure needed to grow the UK economy today but also enable a more sustainable built environment for the country’s long term future. 

Founded in 2013 as a joint venture between industry leaders Lafarge UK and Tarmac, the company benefits from over 150 years of experience and combined assets. Through its nationwide network of sites, it provides customers with aggregates & asphalt, cement & lime, readymix concrete, road contracting and recycling services, and employs approximately 5,500 people. This combination of people, technology and assets enables Lafarge Tarmac to offer customers unrivalled choice and flexibility, ensuring optimal sustainable performance of their projects and maximising value. 

Lafarge Tarmac has contributed to some of the UK’s biggest construction projects, including Wembley Stadium, Heathrow Terminal 5, The Shard and London 2012. It also provides environmental stewardship for thousands of acres of the UK’s countryside. Safety is at the core its operations, beginning with a commitment to provide a safe environment for employees and extending to contractors and communities around its sites.

Lafarge Tarmac operates independently, but is owned by Lafarge SA and Anglo American, who are equal shareholders. Lafarge Tarmac business has grown organically as well as through acquisitions, including household names such as Tarmac, Blue Circle and Redland. The leadership team includes Cyrille Ragoucy as CEO, and Guy Young as CFO.

About the Regional Growth Fund

The Regional Growth Fund is a £3.2 billion fund designed to help companies in England to grow. So far £2.6 billion of funding has been allocated to support projects and programmes committed to deliver sustainable jobs and economic growth. Round 5 closed on 9 December and selected bidders will be announced in the spring 2014. For more information, please go to


[1] This calculation assumes a gradual increase in uptake of low temperature asphalt up to 21% market replacement in volume after 10 years. The calculations do not reflect inflation on fuel costs over the 10 years period. The calculation is based on the data generated from the site trial installed within the project. It also does not account for capital expenditure required to install equipment to manufacture LTA, and additional materials required for some LTA mixes.

[2] MPA Sustainable Development Report 2012.

[3] TRL Aspect footprint calculator CO2 footprint of bitumen 190kg CO2/tonne; 1.3 million tonnes bitumen; 20.7 tonnes aggregate.

[4] Carbon Trust, Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator, Guide to the asphalt sector 

[5] Assuming the average car emits 150g/CO2/km