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Managing the Flow of Construction Minerals in the North West Region of England

Managing the Flow of Construction Minerals in the North West Region of England
Darryn McEvoy
Journal Article
Journal of Industrial Ecology, Volume 8, Issue 3, Pages 121–140

This article, focusing on the flow of bulk construction minerals, establishes a mass balance framework for the North West of England, a region that imports more aggregate material than any other in the United Kingdom. The problems associated with construction minerals are of a different nature than most other resource flow issues: Depletion of resources and contamination are not considered major problems; rather it is the environmental impact resulting from life‐cycle stages from extraction, transport, processing, through to final disposal that is most important. A mass balance framework can promote a better understanding of the regional flow of materials, and the impact of human activity on surrounding ecosystems, and hence underpin informed decision making. This is of particular relevance at the current time because increasing political emphasis is placed on sustainable resource management and resource productivity at the United Kingdom and European Union levels. Using a mass balance framework to analyze the sustainability impacts of construction and mineral flows in the North West of England, this study finds that flows resulting from construction activity account for 34,075 terajoules (TJ) of energy resulting in 2,701 gigagrams (Gg) of carbon dioxide emissions related to energy use, and 387 Gg of carbon dioxide emissions related to the transportation of the minerals. Against these impacts, the flow of bulk construction mineral salso supports 147,000 jobs within the region.

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