Stabilising rural roads with waste streams in colombia as an environmental strategy based on a life cycle assessment methodology

Alejandra Balaguera, Jaume Alberti, Gloria I. Carvajal, Pere Fullana-I-palmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Roads with low traffic volume link rural settlements together and connect them with urban centres, mobilising goods and agricultural products, and facilitating the transportation of people. In Colombia, most of these roads are in poor conditions, causing social, economic, and environmental problems, and significantly affecting the mobility, security, and economic progress of the country and its inhabitants. Therefore, it is essential to implement strategies to improve such roads, keeping in mind technical, economic, and environmental criteria. This article shows the results of the application of the environmental life cycle assessment—LCA—to sections of two low-traffic roads located in two different sites in Colombia: one in the Urrao area (Antioquia), located in the centre of the country; and another in La Paz (Cesar), located in the northeast of the country. Each segment was stabilised with alternative materials such as brick dust, fly ash, sulfonated oil, and polymer. The analysis was carried out in three stages: the first was the manufacture of the stabiliser; the second included preliminary actions that ranged from the search for the material to its placement on site; and the third was the stabilisation process, which included the entire application process, from the stabiliser to the road. The environmental impacts are mainly found in the manufacture of stabilisers (60% of the total), for sulfonated oil or polymer, due to the different compounds used during production, before their use as stabilisers. The impact categories with the greatest influence were abiotic depletion potential (ADP), global warming potential (GWP) and terrestrial ecotoxicity potential (TETP). For the stabilisation stage (impact between 40% and 99%), ash and brick dust have the highest impacts. The impact categories most influenced in this stage were: acidification potential (AP), freshwater aquatic ecotoxicity potential (FAETP), human toxicity potential (HTP), marine aquatic ecotoxicity potential (MAETP) and photochemical ozone creation potential (POCP).

Original languageEnglish
Article number2458
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2021


  • Alternative materials
  • Circular economy
  • Construction
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Road stabilisation
  • Waste management

Product types of Minciencias

  • A1 article - Q1


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