Celebrating what we do in the mineral extractives sector is something we should do more often. We work in an industry which we can be proud of and we should share that pride in how we present what we do to our colleagues, our families, our communities, the press and the wider public.
Think of the extraordinary advances we have made in keeping our colleagues safe. We now open once-closed quarry doors, inviting in our local communities. Then there are compelling improvements in our extraction and production processes. Somewhere near the top of my list of industry advances has to be the innovation we deliver in recycling and sustainability.
This is why the Institute of Quarrying, as part of its ‘Creating Future Leaders’ strategy, set out a number of strategic objectives, including ‘supporting the industry in driving healthy, sustainable workplaces’. We are working with our members to develop the skills and capability to deliver a truly sustainable industry, delivering positive environmental outcomes.
Over the last few years, we have seen a significant rise across the sector in the demands relating to the recycling agenda. These help to meet our environmental commitments and can bring new business opportunities. There are many similarities in the aims and objectives of the waste and recycling sector to that of mineral products, but there are also differences which present challenges to us as managers.
We engage with members who work across these areas to understand how we can best support them to align such activities, looking to provide a clear and efficient approach. This is a strand that we will continue to develop over the coming months and we will be seeking further feedback and input from members.
What few people inside or outside our sector may appreciate is that more than 29% of the total aggregates market is made up of recycled and secondary materials. The often-unseen processing and repurposing of construction co-products play a major part in upcycling materials for future use.
Each month Quarry Management magazine features articles and detailed case studies showcasing how the sector is improving its approach to maximizing efficiency in the use of primary materials, as well as the reuse and recycling of materials in core products. The acceptance of upcycled materials in downstream products and applications has happened as a direct result of the industry’s efforts and the recognition that primary aggregates can be substituted in the right circumstances.
We have made huge strides over the years to develop, support and promote new processes and technologies, to continuously improve the performance of our industry in the environmental and sustainability field.
This provides us with many opportunities but also the chance to recognize some of the potential challenges we may face. In our day-to-day roles, we face a range of regulations and standards that can create confusion. We are well versed in the Quarry Regulations 1999 and the requirements they place on us as individuals within our businesses, but at times it can be less clear how we embed other regulations and standards alongside these.
As always, it is the combined knowledge and experience of you, our members, that helps to drive these areas of work, to find innovative solutions to meet the challenges we face. We must continue to look beyond the ‘normal way’ of doing things and never accept the status quo just because ‘we’ve always done it that way’.
Now more than ever, we all have a responsibility to show what a proactive and positive industry we represent. Let us celebrate our successes and continue to make waves.