Asphalt at Lexmark Parking Lot is First in North America to Use Recycled Toner

Toner-Pave1Lexmark International reports that it’s the first company in North America to use recycled toner in asphalt to pave a parking lot. The asphalt used to pave the Lexmark company parking lot at the company’s corporate headquarters in Lexington, Kentucky, contains more than 9,000 pounds of toner derived from the remaining toner in recycled printer cartridges.

This is the first commercial application in North America of the toner-asphalt product, called TonerPave. Lexmark says the mixture may even possibly be better than traditional asphalt.

“We have been trying to find an efficient way to reuse and recycle toner for well over 10 years,” commented John Gagel, corporate manager of sustainability for Lexmark. “TonerPave is an efficient and effective manner in which to recycle toner. We’re now demonstrating that we have a solution that can be utilized in a sustainable manner. It’s part of the circular economy.”

Partnership with Close the Loop

TonerPave was developed by Lexmark’s longtime sustainability partner, Close the Loop, an Australia-based company that recycles printer cartridges from Lexmark and other companies at its plants, including one in Hebron, Kentucky. Close the Loop has been partnered with Lexmark for more than 15 years, and is the world’s largest recycling and resource recovery company for imaging consumables.

Lexmark has been working on toner reuse and recycling options, but no other post-market solution could be found for toner except in a “waste-to-energy” scenario, in which the toner is used as fuel in waste facilities to generate electricity.

Lexmark turned to Close the Loop to see whether it could help. From there, Close the Loop developed an asphalt additive, a composite incorporating waste toner and other recycled materials called modified toner polymer, or MTP. The new additive is said to improve asphalt quality and performance, with an environmental benefit of producing low-carbon asphalt at no additional cost.

By the numbers, for each 1,000 pounds of asphalt, there are 50 pounds of binder. In the new product, 5 pounds of the binder are MTP, of which 4.75 pounds, or 95 percent, are recycled toner.

The product has been used in Australia since last year; the Lexmark parking lot is the first commercial use in North America.

Besides Close the Loop, Lexmark is partnering on the project with general contractor Denham Blythe, paving company APM, and asphalt-mixer The Allen Company, all of which are based in Lexington, Kentucky.

The firm says that if long-term observations of TonerPave bear out the results from the past year, it could prove to be an asphalt-improvement for equal value. Performance of the pavement used in the Lexmark paving project will be evaluated over time and compared to the traditional asphalt control.

“We are able to provide a product that does not increase the raw material cost of laying asphalt pavement,” commented Dean Vukovic, Close the Loop’s director of business development. “This is the model we have successfully built in Australia and expect no different in the U.S. market.”

Close the Loop has already begun work on the next generation of TonerPave which will Lexmark says will further advance the sustainability and performance benefits through the incorporation of rubber from recycled tires.

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