The Strategist

UN expert: The world is running out of sand

03/08/2021 - 03:36

The world is running out of one of its most important commodities, sand. It is considered the most sought-after resource after water, CNBC says.

Sand is the main material used to build roads, bridges, high-speed trains, as well as in the production of glass, silicon chips and others. The world is already facing its scarcity, which will become one of the greatest problems of the 21st century, experts predict.

"We never thought we would run out of sand, but we are already seeing it in some places," said UN climate scientist Pascal Peduzzi. It takes 10 tonnes of sand to produce a tonne of cement. This means 40 to 50 billion tonnes of sand are consumed every year for construction alone.

The global rate of its use, which has tripled in the last two decades, far exceeds the natural rate of replenishment through weathering. Sand "is perceived as a cheap, affordable and endless product, but this is not the case," experts say. Population growth and urbanisation may further increase demand for the commodity.

Earlier it was reported that global traders have been hit by a shipping crisis due to a shortage of shipping containers. Shipping costs have risen by 300 percent in recent times. Experts attribute this to an uneven global economic recovery amid a coronavirus pandemic.