Cold Recycling (CR) for Asphalt Pavements

Cold Recycling (CR) techniques are powerful strategies to rehabilitate pavements. When properly applied, it has long term economic benefits—allowing owner agencies to stretch their available funds while providing the traveling public with a safe and reliable driving surface.

aerial view of a full depth reclamation train performing work on pavement during day construction

Figure 1. Full Depth Recycling 



cold in place recycling single unit train on a daytime construction job

Figure 2. Partial Depth Recycling



Image of cold central plant recycling

Figure 3. Cold Central Plant Recycling

Why Cold Recycle?

  • Proven technology with a range of strategies to suit most rehabilitation challenges
  • More sustainable if designed and constructed correctly
  • Uses all existing, paid for materials
  • Requires limited new materials
  • Minimizes trucking operations
  • Shorter construction time, less traffic disruption
  • Cost effective / lower life-cycle cost
  • Removes distresses instead of covering them
  • Selected strategies enhance structural capacity
  • Extended pavement life
  • Recycled roads can be recycled again
  • Specifications / nSSPs are already in place
  • Experienced contractors are already working in California

Cold Recycling Techniques 

Typical flexible pavement recycling strategies used by Caltrans include: 

In-Place Recycling

Cold Central Plant Recycling

Although flexible pavement recycling strategies are capable of treating many different types of distress, not all rehabilitation projects are good candidates. Some strategies are better suited to treat certain distresses, and some projects are more suited to conventional rehabilitation methods. Review and assessment of pavement conditions, structural capacity, material properties, geometrics, traffic concerns, constructability, and cost effectiveness should be conducted as part of the project evaluation process.

Appropriate application of any rehabilitation strategy requires a comprehensive field review prior to design to evaluate the type, severity, and extent of the pavement distress (for more information, refer to the Pavement Evaluation Manual). The district Materials Engineer should be consulted during the initial project assessment. Other resources include as-built plans, the Photolog, Pavement Condition Report, and corresponding mapping available from Geographic Information Services (GIS).

Available Specifications 

Standard Specifications

  • Section 30-2 Full Depth Recycling - No Stabilizer
  • Section 30-3 Full Depth Recycling - Foamed Asphalt
  • Section 30-4 Full Depth Recycling - Cement 

Non-Standard Specifications

NSSPs require pre-approval by HQ Pavement. If you would like a copy of the non-standard specifications in Word format, please send a request to any of the contacts listed. 

  • NSSP-30-5 Partial Depth Recycling (11.09.2022)
  • NSSP-30-7 Cold Central Place Recycling (04.05.2022)

Cold Recycling Resources   

Webinars and Presentations 

If you would like a copy of the presentation slides, please send a request to any of the contacts listed.

2022-2023 Cold Recycling Webinar Series 

2020 Introduction to Cold Recycling Webinar 


Office of Asphalt Pavements Contacts 

Office of Asphalt Pavements
2389 Gateway Oaks, Suite 200, MS-91
Sacramento, California 95833
Attn: Larry Hernandez 

Partial Depth Recycling (PDR):
Full Depth Recycling (FDR):