Founder & Owner
Michael Capasso is the founder, owner and president of Green Asphalt, a New York City company that produces recycled asphalt pavement materials.
Though he earned a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University from the Nolan School of Hotel Administration, he was eventually drawn to construction, the industry where his family worked.
“Then I started a company over 30 years ago now and started out as small subcontractor, which led to becoming a general contractor, which then led to the asphalt plant,” he said.
He began noticing the climate change in the world and became interested in sustainability.
“I’ve taken executive education classes at Harvard Business School and the London Business School through the Young Presidents’ Organization. One of the things that was a takeaway was that a lot of the change that’s needed in the world is incumbent upon business leaders,” Capasso said.
“You can’t rely on government all the time to do it. It takes business leaders to step up and do it, and that has always stuck with me.”
So around 2011, while operating his other company, C.A.C. Industries, he got the idea to recycle asphalt.
“There is an abundance of excess asphalt that gets hauled off to waste sites and dumps. So why not recycle as much as you can?” he wondered.
Additionally, recycling would reduce the company’s carbon footprint. While recycled asphalt has been around for a while, “The difference between what we’re doing and the typical industry is that we recycle 100%,” said Capasso.
“There was technology out there that already existed. We got involved when people were doing it and then enhanced and added our own value to develop our own patents,” he recalled.
However, selling others in the construction industry and governments that lay hot mix asphalt on the benefits of 100% recycled asphalt has been difficult.
“The biggest challenge we face is that a lot of customers don’t care as much about that as I do, and until we get to that inflection point, it will be a challenge,” he said.
“The New York City Department of Design and Construction is very much interested in it, and they’re developing performance dates and mix specifications to allow for the highest recycled content. But we’ve been challenged by other agencies where they haven’t necessarily embraced it as much.”
Capasso says government entities and companies should start thinking about the environment.
“We see the impacts of climate change and the environmental effects on the earth. I think that’s probably the biggest reason. If you can reduce carbon footprint emissions in every process we do across the globe, and we collectively all do it, we’ll have a cleaner, greener, healthier planet for generations to come,” he said.
Another challenge was the COVID-19 pandemic, which struck the city hard in 2020. “The biggest challenges have been that a lot of projects that were supposed to come out for bid have been delayed due to the pandemic, so there’s been less of an opportunity to supply asphalt,” he said.
What is needed to foster a greater adoption of products like his would be customer acknowledgement of carbon footprint emissions and for government agencies to start mandating the highest recycled asphalt content as long as it meets performance standards, according to Capasso.
To help, he has hired two people to join his team and get out to industry functions, conventions and conferences to meet with asphalt plant owners and invite them to visit his plant to better understand the process.
“We’re willing to contribute more time, energy and capital to get the message out and hopefully get them to adopt to this process,” he said.
But despite the difficulties, Capasso would advise businesses to still look for ways to benefit the environment.
“It takes the private business community to really make a huge impact and change in the world. Don’t wait for the government to mandate regulations.”
In his off time, the married father of four stays busy. He is a member of Young Presidents’ Organization, and C.A.C. has an arm called C.A.C. Cares that gives back to communities with activities such as planting gardens, building playgrounds at schools and donating turkeys at Thanksgiving.
Capasso says the best piece of advice he ever received was, “Don’t be afraid to take on a challenge that you really believe in.”
“I find it rewarding knowing that we took on a challenge that no one thought was possible, and I find it rewarding that we have the ability to make a change to the environment.”