Are Covid vaccines making world’s sand shortage worse?

Experts warn some places already run out of sand, a commodity used in the production of vaccine glass vials

The Big Zero report

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Scientists warn the world may be heading towards a sand shortage, a global issue that is predicted to intensify by the manufacture and rollout of Covid-19 vaccines.

Sand is considered to be the most consumed raw material after water.

When paired with cement it becomes concrete, when mixed with bitumen it gives asphalt and when heated it becomes glass.

Because of these properties, sand is used for the production of the vaccine glass vials.

According to a report by UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the world extracts more than 40 billion tonnes of sand every year.

This is the equivalent of 18 kilograms a day per person, or enough to build a wall of sand 27 metres wide and 27 metres high around the entire globe each year.

Scientists warn sand extraction of such scale, especially in cases when it is taken from rivers or coasts can have a serious environmental impact on ecosystems, biodiversity and erosion.

CNBC reports that Pascal Veluzzi, Climate Scientist at UNEP and Professor at the University of Geneva, during a webinar hosted by think tank Chatham House, said: “We just think that sand is everywhere.

“We never thought we would run out of sand, but it starting in some places. It is about anticipating what can happen in the next decade or so because if we don’t look forward if we don’t anticipate, we will have massive problems about sand supply but also about land planning.”

Chatham House suggests current efforts to improve the management of sand resources at local, national and global levels are uneven.

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