From trash to treasure, manmade sand!

A pile of dark waste slag turned to sand

From trash to treasure, manmade sand!

Singapore is taking on the challenge to reduce the reliance on sand. NEWSand is the name of their newly developed man-made sand.
Photo: Pan-United Corporation Ltd

Sand is becoming more and more scarce. Looking at sand and how it’s used is a must.  Construction, infrastructure and land reclamation demand huge amounts of it. Historically sand has been used as if it’s as an abundant, never ceasing resource. It’s not. 

Perhaps necessity really is the mother of invention. Innovations of alternatives to sand and initiatives to reduce the use of sand is popping up around the globe. Plastic waste to replace sand in roads, glass to replace sand in building concrete and charcoal and loaf plants to replace sand in bricks are a few. New building techniques is other. Individuals, companies and nations engage in the quest. Singapore’s man made sand NEWSand is one. 

Singapore is one of the worlds biggest importers of sand. Construction boom and huge reclamation projects demand enormous amounts of sand. Reclamation with sand filling up sea bottom to create new land has added on 25 % to Singapore’s land area. Many neighbouring countries that used to sell sand to Singapore has banned sand exports to save local environments. It may be one of the reasons why Singapore’s Ministry of National Development is encouraging the industry to reduce their reliance on sand. The nations circular energy strategy another. 

Trash into treasure

Treated incineration ash, a residue of high-temperature waste treatments is the base of NEWSand. NEWSand will reduce the use of natural sand and at the same turn waste into treasure. It’s now tested in ongoing infrastructure projects. 

Singapore’s Minister of Environment and Water Resources Minister says that NEWSand is a part of a bigger strategy. He compares NEWSand to NEWater, urban stormwater, actual wastewater purified for consumption. He says “we need to invest in R&D (research and development) in close partnership with industry and research institutions. Just like how we have grown our water industry and research ecosystem to tackle our water challenge. This will allow us to overcome technological barriers”. 

Sand cross borders daily, with or without human interaction. Ideas , good intentions and initiatives should too. I salute every effort to find sustainable efforts. Let’s all help spreading them for other ideas to build on.  Let’s help good intentions migrate too!

Which other sand saving initiative needs to be in the spotlight?

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