The Role of Zinc in a Sustainable Society
Sustainable Development as a guiding principle has become a societal, regulatory and market trend. The environmental and social attributes of materials and products are increasingly affecting design and purchasing decisions in key sectors such as building and construction and automotive manufacturing. There is a market shift toward high performance and environmentally responsible products.
In order to ensure market access and acceptance by decision-makers, and to develop innovative applications and grow markets, material suppliers need to adopt a systems approach: this means understanding the performance attributes of their materials and products throughout entire product chains; from the raw material to the use of the finished product and further to the end-of-life management.
Zinc in sustainable building and construction is an example. Sustainable development implies a careful balance of social, economic and environmental aspects as well as between present and future needs.
Today’s growth brings economic prosperity and welfare – but also a continuously growing demand for materials. Thus, a trade-off arises between societal benefits and the depletion of natural resources.
In order to make this growth sustainable, the materials used need to be either renewable or recyclable. Zinc building products like roofs, gutters and railings can last for generations, and after their useful life they can be recovered and re-used over and over again. Therefore, renewability and recyclability are complementary – and not conflicting – contributions to a sustainable future.
Zinc for Life Publications
This publication outlines zinc’s essentiality for sustainable development through nine sections – natural, essentiality for the environment, durability, recyclability, essentiality for human health, essentiality for crops, a sustainable source of energy.
The zinc industry understands that to properly demonstrate the sustainability attributes of zinc, data and information is needed that enables users of zinc to evaluate its impacts and benefits across the lifecycle. To this end, IZA has developed two new Environmental Profiles.
The first provides information and life cycle data on primary zinc to actors along the zinc value chain.
The second provides information and life cycle data on zinc sheet, and can be used to understand, and where appropriate, improve the life cycle impacts of zinc sheet products.
These Environmental Profiles are available for download by clicking on the images to the left.