Creating a sustainable sand industry requires greater regulation – here’s why

Creating a sustainable sand industry requires greater regulation – here’s why

Illegal beach sand mining, Morocco. Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care
As of 2011-2012, when investigative filmmaker Denis Delestrac and team, were first collecting and unveiling sand mining datas and information from the professionals involved, the Sand business was estimated to be a $70 billion industry, worldwide…!—Denis Delestrac (©-2013)
Sand is the second most consumed natural resource, after water. The construction-building industry is by far the largest consumer of this finite resource. The traditional building of one average-sized house requires 200 tons of sand; a hospital requires 3,000 tons of sand; each kilometer of highway built requires 30,000 tons of sand… A nuclear plant, a staggering 12 million tons of sand…”
All captions by: “Sand Wars” Multi Award-Winning Filmmaker Denis Delestrac (©-2013).


Until its trade is more closely monitored and regulated, sand will continue to be exploited, threatening the very building blocks of modern society.

The absence of any real monitoring system contributes significantly to sand mining’s unsustainability.

With the rise of environmental ratings, companies are increasingly motivated to incorporate sustainability into their decisions.

But surveillance alone may not be enough: the industry urgently needs more alternatives to sand.

The scientific community could yet engineer a promising alternative. At Imperial College London, a team of researchers has created a product called Finite, a material that is as strong as concrete but has half the carbon footprint and uses that previously unsuitable material: desert sand. However, the product is still in its early stages and has yet to be manufactured on a large scale…

Read Full Article, World Finance (04-15-2020)

Rising demand for sand calls for resource governance, UNEP; (05-07-2019)
With the global demand for sand and gravel standing at 40 to 50 billion tonnes per year, a new report by UN Environment reveals that aggregate extraction in rivers has led to pollution, flooding, lowering of water aquifers and worsening drought occurrence.

World Consumes 100 Billion Tons of Materials Every Year, Report Finds; Yale E360 (01-24-2020)

Desert Sand could be the next bonanza for desert countries; Asia Times (07-31-2019)
Researchers have developed a new construction material that, unlike concrete, can be made from round grains of desert sand. Finding an alternative to conventional concrete sand would relieve environmental pressure around the world. But it would be a tragedy if the discovery of the usefulness of this readily available commodity led to an unregulated gold rush…

Demand for sand: the largest mining industry no one talks about; Inhabitat (05-23-2019)
The world’s largest and perhaps most destructive mining industry is rarely discussed. Approximately 85 percent of all material mined from the earth is a simple and widely available resource: sand. Because it is so cheap and readily available, it is mined by everyone from guy with a shovel, to multi-million dollar machine operations.

Sand, Rarer Than One Thinks: A UNEP report (GEA-March 2014)
Despite the colossal quantities of sand and gravel being used, our increasing dependence on them and the significant impact that their extraction has on the environment, this issue has been mostly ignored by policy makers and remains largely unknown by the general public.
In March 2014 The United Nations released its first Report about Sand Mining: “Sand, Rarer Than One Thinks.”
“Sand Wars” film documentary by Denis Delestrac – first broadcasted on the european Arte Channel, May 28th, 2013 in its french version: “Le Sable: enquête sur une disparition”, where it became the highest rated documentary for 2013 – expressly inspired the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to publish this 2014-Global Environmental Alert.

Sand Is in Such High Demand, People Are Stealing Tons of It, By Dave Roos; HowStuffWorks (03-06-2017)
As strange as it may sound, sand is one of the world’s hottest commodities. The global construction boom has created an insatiable appetite for sand, the chief ingredient for making concrete. The problem is that sand isn’t as abundant as it used to be. And when high demand and high value meets scarcity, you open the doors to smuggling…

The Conservation Crisis No One Is Talking About, TakePart (09-21-2016)
Beaches around the world are disappearing. No, the cause isn’t sea-level rise, at least not this time. It’s a little-known but enormous industry called sand mining, which every year sucks up billions of tons of sand from beaches, ocean floors, and rivers to make everything from concrete to microchips to toothpaste…

Sand Wars, An Investigation Documentary, By Multi Award-Winning Filmmaker Denis Delestrac (©-2013)
Is sand an infinite resource? Can the existing supply satisfy a gigantic demand fueled by construction booms? What are the consequences of intensive beach sand mining for the environment and the neighboring populations…? This investigative documentary takes us around the globe to unveil a new gold rush and a disturbing fact: the “Sand Wars” have begun…

Global Sand Mining: Learn More, Coastal Care

Coastal Care

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