The future’s bright, the future’s sustainable

As the concrete sector is the largest user of fly ash in the UK, it’s with some interest that the UKQAA read the Concrete Industry’s recent 7th Sustainability Performance Report.


The Concrete Industry’s report reviews the progress that has been made to improve sustainability in the concrete industry to date and highlights commitments going forward. It makes for an interesting read.


On the whole, it shows the industry is making huge strides to improve its performance, the CO2 associated with concrete manufacture having reduced 22 per cent since 1990. It also highlights how responsible sourcing and resource efficiency are playing key roles in creating a more sustainable sector. This is a great achievement for the concrete industry and very welcome news for the producers and users of fly ash.


As a readily available, easily accessible by-product, fly ash is a winning combination – it is both sustainable to source and has low embodied carbon. As the report acknowledges, it can also have a positive influence on the appearance and performance of concrete.  As such, fly ash is becoming an increasingly important part of the sustainable concrete supply chain and as the report highlights, demand for it as an additional cementious material has remained steady in recent years.


As the minerals and aggregates market continues to experience change and sources of primary raw aggregates come under pressure, it’s clear that fly ash will have an increasingly important role to play in supplying demand and improving the overall sustainability of building products. Along with this, fly ash has many technical benefits within concrete which are recognised in several product standards.


As the Concrete Industry’s report highlights, in 2013 the percentage of additional cementious material such as fly ash as a proportion of the total cementious materials was 28.8 per cent. The target for 2020 is 35 percent. This is an ambitious six per cent increase which aims to reduce reliance on primary or secondary aggregates and increase consumption of fly ash – an already abundant material. With up 50 million tonnes of fly ash already in storage and roughly one third of fresh stock being surplus – the ash industry is well placed to take up the challenge.


Ultimately, what these latest figures show is the concrete industry is shifting from total reliance on primary raw materials and continuing to open up to alternative supply streams which are both resource efficient and have low embodied carbon. Combined with its undoubted technical benefits fly ash is an important mainstay of high-quality sustainable concrete.


To read the report in more detail, please click the following link: