Topic: Blog

Studies Show Cigarette Butts May Be The Next Hot Thing In Paving

Every year, about 6 trillion cigarette butts are produced worldwide, or about 800 discarded butts for every man, woman and child on the planet. Not only are these butts an unsightly and expensive waste disposal problem, but the toxic chemicals which the filters trap and contain leach out over time to poison soil, groundwater, rivers and oceans. Now, a researcher at RMIT in Melbourne, Australia says he may have found a surprising answer to this problem: incorporate cigarette butts into asphalt aggregate!

According to the researcher, by coating the butts with a combination of paraffin wax and bitumen, the black substance also known as “tar” that gives asphalt its distinctive properties, it is possible to trap toxins which used butts contain while repurposing them as a lightweight, flexible asphalt aggregate component. This reduces the overall weight of an asphalt mix design while removing a potential 1.2 million metric tons of waste from the planet’s biosphere.

Another interesting side effect of adding cigarette butts to asphalt is the reduction of heat. Asphaltic concrete has been directly linked to the so-called “urban heat island” effect, caused by vast amounts of asphalt in a relatively small area. Cigarette filters are mostly made from cellulose acetate, a fibrous material which is spun down to look and feel like cotton. This material serves as an insulator which filters out toxins in cigarette smoke while helping prevent burnt fingers for those who simply must light up. These filters reduce thermal conductivity and reduce the thermal density of the mix. When placed as part of a roadway the asphalt containing the filters absorb and diffuse more heat, resulting in a cooler surface temperature and less radiant heat being redirected into the environment.
The final paper on this study states that butts coated with bitumen satisfied requirements for medium- and heavy-traffic mix designs. This would apply to interstates and surface streets with heavy commercial volume. Streets in residential neighborhoods, parking lots not marked for commercial vehicles and similar applications might use paraffin-coated butts. In the study, the research team used 10kg, 15kg and 25kg (about 22, 33 and 55lbs respectively) of encapsulated cigarette butts per cubic meter (1.30795cu.yd) to determine the ideal asphalt mix.

Since cigarette smoking on a global scale isn’t likely to go away anytime soon, finding new ways to deal with  this waste is becoming a more pressing problem every day. Estimates claim that the mass of discarded cigarette butts may increase by as much as 50% by 2025 because of the increase in global population. Knowing this, recycling these butts into asphalt and other lightweight construction materials, as the author of the study proposes, may help us all breathe just a little bit easier.

At Calvac Paving, we know we only have one planet, and it’s up to all of us to care for it the best way we know how. There’s no reason that building a solid product and being ecologically responsible should be mutually exclusive, and we’re always on the lookout for new ways to incorporate green ideas into our building design.. We will keep a close eye on this and other “green” developments in construction materials, so we can continue to deliver the most environmentally sound products and processes possible without compromising on quality or durability. It’s all part of our commitment to make the communities we serve, and the world we all share, a safer and healthier place for everyone.


Calvac Paving Maintains High Safety Work Record

The construction industry requires a delicate balance between worker safety and work completion and efficiency. At Calvac Paving, we value the safety and health of our employees as an integral part of our Business Plan. While many companies say this, we are pleased to be able to provide hard numbers to prove it. Our Ex-Mod(California Modification Rating System) rating of 74 with our workers’ compensation insurer is one of the lowest in the industry. This means that over the last three years, our experienced workers’ compensation losses have been 25% less than the conventional wisdom of the insurance industry said they should be. All this sounds very impressive, but what does it actually mean? Here’s a closer look at why this is big news for Calvac Paving and our valued clients.

Calvac Paving Crew Hard At work

What Does Ex-Mod Really Mean?

In simple terms a company’s  experience modification compares actual losses to expected losses. The experience rating system, in essence, adjusts the premium an employer will pay based on a comparison of that employer’s history of payroll and claims (collectively referred to as “experience”) to the average experience of other employers within the same classification. The result of this comparison is an experience modification. A Ex-Mod rating of a  100 is average, and pays 100% of the customary premium for coverage. Likewise, a company with an ex-mod of 125 would pay 125% of the industry average premium, because of the higher risk and nearly certain greater expense involved in the carrier keeping this company on the books.

Calvac Paving’s rating of 74 is well below the industry standard and means that we pay less than 3/4 of what many of our competitors would for identical workers’ compensation coverage. The best performers in the industry rarely reach an ex-mod of below 70, because insurance carriers can hardly afford to give away their coverage. However, our ex-mod does provide a verifiable, actionable metric by which to measure worker safety and the likelihood of on-the-job accidents and injuries among our employees.

How Is Ex-Mod Calculated?
The State of California’s Worker’s Compensation Insurance Rating Board put new rules in place for 2012, based on recommendations from the state insurance commissioner in 2008. These rules state that insurance ex-mod is calculated every year as an average of the data from the three preceding calendar years. The WCIRB guidelines require that insurance carriers provide an ex-mod score statement each year, usually at least 30 days before renewing the premium. These guidelines are intended to incentivize good occupational health and safety practices and limit workers’ compensation claims, but at Calvac Paving, we just call that business as usual. The financial perks that come with having a great safety record are always welcome in the business world, but what really matters to us is what our ex-mod means in the real world: the fact that our employees go home every night to their families in the same condition they left the house in the morning.

Calvac Paving Operating Machines

What Does Our Insurance Broker Say?

Our insurance broker, NFP/Thoits Insurance, consistently praises our safety record and the programs we use to improve it. Because we take our people’s safety so seriously, we incorporate training on every aspect of construction safety, site and roadway hazards and first aid training. We work closely with our carrier to implement and maintain a sound, viable loss prevention strategy, including IIPP and Early Return to Work programs that help our employees get back to work sooner while remaining in compliance with their healthcare provider’s orders. Because of these factors, our broker has consistently praised our programs and proactive worker safety initiatives, even going so far as to note that our programs are paving the way for future improvements.

From The Principals

Calvac Paving’s Principals are justifiably proud of the company, management and employees for the way they have worked together to make a safer workplace a reality. By continuing to train employees in proper on-site safety protocols and emergency measures as part of a program that meets Cal-OSHA standards for workplace safety, Calvac Paving is leading the way in setting the highest benchmarks possible for worker safety and lost-time injury prevention. Even more importantly, it means Calvac Paving’s employees get to enjoy more productive working days and quality, healthy time with their loved ones when off the clock. While construction continues to be a challenging field in which to balance productivity and safety, we take great pride in proving it’s possible every day.

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