Recycled Materials – Mar 2022 by Miles Watkins

Sustainability – Mar 2022 by Miles Watkins

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Without any doubt, sustainability brings opportunities for the aggregates industry but has anyone spotted the elephant in the room? Yes, that’s the one – the industry and the companies within are largely engaged in a linear business model. Dig it, crush it, sell it, forget it, repeat. A great many of us have done and continue to do well out of this process and probably will do for a while yet. However, for how long?

Recently released data shows that the industry is very much on the path to a new place with 62mt (28%) of all rocks sold being second hand. Great! It does point out however that the data in this area are a little weak. Where are these materials going? What role are they performing? What virgin materials are they replacing? Are these ‘products’ going anywhere or simply avoiding landfill by being ‘used’ in situ?

Also, who is doing this excellent work? If you scan the sustainability reports of the usual suspects in the rock-breaking space, you will find their recycled volumes are very low. Is someone eating their lunch? At the same time, there is mounting evidence that the more enlightened users of materials (think utility companies, local authorities, high-profile developers) are seeking not only low carbon and recycled content but simply less stuff.

So, in a world where customers are beginning to look for recycled materials if any at all, where does the traditional industry stand? It certainly has some decisions to make, and I advocate that these decisions should be well informed. Where better to gain this information than from the customers themselves. A move from telling people what they need to asking what they want would not be a bad place to start. There is never a substitute for a detailed and up-to-date understanding of your customers issues. Stop guessing and start knowing – said someone from Blockbuster video – probably.