Managing Environmental And Health Concerns In The Concrete Industry

Understanding the need for a balance between community residential and industry, and natural assets

Boral Concrete Redbank Plains offers a good site for production of concrete product range including standard, advanced and decorative products. Under the “Standard range”, Boral Concrete supplies a range of Standard concretes suitable for general purpose application like pathways and driveways, residences alongside low to mid-rise buildings. Under ‘advanced’ products, the industry provides Envisia, Aspire, Envirocrete, post tensioned concrete, lightweight, pilling/diaphragm wall, precast, no fines concrete and high durability (marine, acidic) brands. Under “decorative” product, the industry offers coloured concrete, exposed concrete, illuminated concrete and polished concrete.

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The production of the above product range have immense environmental effects being that the manufacture and application remain complex. The noted effects are harmful while others are positive depending on circumstances. The primary component of concrete is cement that comes with social and environmental impacts hence greatly to concrete’s impacts. This is because industry produce carbon dioxide in the process which is an intoxicating greenhouse gas. The concrete products cause damage to topsoil. Concrete leads to surface runoff as it is used to create hard surfaces thus can lead to soil erosion, flooding and water pollution. However, concrete has also been used as a means of damming, deflection or diversion of flood waters, and mud flows to control floods. Light-coloured concrete has been used to decrease urban heat island effects as a result of its higher albedo. Concrete has also been a dangerous air pollution through its dust released by natural disaster and building demolition. Concrete contain such substances like unwanted and useful additives which create health concerns because of radioactivity and toxicity. Moreover, wet concrete remains extremely alkaline and without being handled with proper protective equipment can cause health risk.

The management of the above impacts and concerns are achieved through environmental policy/Acts and Regulation, QA, ERA’s and EIA. For example, concrete recycling policy is being used to respond to the improved environmental awareness, legislation as well as economic considerations. The design improvement has focused on reducing carbon emissions associated with concrete with the consideration of implementing carbon tax. Another policy is to create centers for emission absorbing concrete for fighting air pollution by breaking down pollutants in contact with concrete. This has extended to the absorption of CO2 in curing process using admixture which absorbs carbon dioxide while curing takes place (Epstein, 2018).  

Concrete has also led to urban heat also known as urban heat island effect. This health concern is being solved by the use of light-coloured concrete to reflect up to fifty percent of additional light than asphalt and decreasing ambient temperature. The policy discourages the use of a low albedo value which features in black asphalt that only absorbs a hug solar heat percentage thus contributing to cities’ warming. The policy insist on paving with light colored concrete apart from substituting asphalt with light-coloured concrete which helps indigenous communities to bring down their  average temperature. The toxic and radioactive contamination are also being managed by the incorporation of some compounds like metals in hydration process of cement to immobilize these useful and unwanted additives to harmless state thereby barring their release freely elsewhere. The contact with wet concrete which cause skin chemical burns as a result of caustic nature of mixture of water and cement is being solved through protective equipment.   

Impacts of urbanization and expanding industry in cities and communities

The concrete industry must comply with city requirements due to the human impacts on the environment from poorly managed industry which can cause serious environmental impacts and health concerns. As has been seen above, human effects can lead to warming of cities and hence the requirement to use light-coloured concrete in place of asphalts must be complied with. Also, it is a requirement to use light-coloured concrete in pavements to reduce ambient temperatures and reflect much heat that would otherwise cause health risks (Fowlie, Reguant & Ryan, 2016).

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The urbanisation and concrete industry expansion in cities and communities has had both negative and positive impacts. As has been observed, the concrete production has led to various environmental impacts and health concerns. For example, as the industry is expanding, more carbon dioxide is emitted, more concrete dust is released and even increased toxic and radioactive contamination are being felt which lead to increased health risk (Hale, Borys & Adams, 2015). Moreover, increased urbanisation means that more of concrete products are used and hence facilitating the negative environmental impacts and health concerns to the cities and communities. For example, there has been increased urban heat island effect resulting from urbanisation and concrete industry expansion into cities and communication (O’Flynn, 2000).   

The management of development and pollution lies squarely on Department of Environment and Science (previously D EHP) tasked with the implementation of City Council Policy. The management uses such tools as EIA, QA and Monitoring and ensured that compliance issues are addressed effectively. The department ensures that EIA are complied with to improve environmental performance to ensure zero environmental infringements. The department uses EIA as stringent regulatory requirements. All these are focused on ensuring compliance audits are done alongside site action plans, mapping license as well as planning compliance requirement. It ensures that QA is achieved by industry players who must comply with their site-based planning approvals and effectively manage sensitive sites to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (De Wolf, Pomponi & Moncaster, 2017). It also ensures energy efficient use, water conservation, minimising as well as recycling waste substances alongside energy to prevent pollution (Tam, 2009).  

The planning, zoning and development assessment framework is operated by different state jurisdiction and remain integral part to growing cities sustainably. The Cement Concrete & Aggregate Australia (CCAA) ensures that they identify barriers to sustainable supply of concrete products and tackle them effectively. Some of the identified issues include ensuring resource security, regional importance, local planning and urban encroachment (Pepe, 2015).

Reviewing land use maps, zoning, and overlays/mapping

The regulatory framework uses an approach whereby different state and territory government has its own variation to planning, zoning and development approvals hence inconsistencies in regulation across jurisdictions.  The production of concrete uses the method of concrete recycling as an approach or framework to dispose concrete structures. This has eliminated the routine shipping of concrete debris to landfills for disposal to improve environmental awareness, economic benefits and governmental laws. This approach ensures concrete is free of trash, paper, wood when collected from demolition before being transferred to a crushing machine. Another approach is clinker substitution via mineral addition by implementing such laws as Australian Cement Standard (AS3972) as amended in 1990.  Another approach is the use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) which is the process whereby carbon dioxide is captured as it is emitted, then compressed to a liquid and subsequently transported in pipelines for permanent storage underground.

From the field trip, it is recommended that a balance between environmental, economic, social, cultural and recreational interest be achieved in communities. This balance must be considered in the concrete industry in planning process by assessing the industry’s impact on sustainable growth and its accompanying state and regional importance in all planning, zoning as well as assessment frameworks within the county (Fowlie, Reguant & Ryan, 2016).

In terms of resource security, there is significant inconsistencies in regulation across jurisdictions due to lack of common regulatory framework that leads to state and territory government variations to planning and zoning. This hampers securing resources areas for future development. Another defect is that local government planning mechanisms lack capacity or expertise for assessing regional or state impacts (Davies, Gore & Khan, 2015). The timeframe for approving development is prolonged and expensive and exposed to political intervention thus increasing risks. Also, urban encroachment due to poor planning results in inefficient operational facilities of quarries thus pushing away from market and adversely impacting on cost of transport, road wear and tear as well as increasing emission of greenhouse gas (Percival et al., 2017).   

SWOT analysis

STRENGTHS

· Availability of a range of products

· Ability to recycle waste

· 

WEAKNESSES

· Lack common regulatory frameworks hinder resource security

· Poor planning and zoning

OPPORTUNITIES

· Continuous amendment to planning requirements

· New innovation for recycling

THREATS

· Local government planning mechanisms lack capacity or expertise for assessing regional or state impacts

· Prolonged approval timeline for approving development leads to increased risks

· Urban encroachment due to poor planning

This site is recommended for the business because it offers the standard products which are backed by expertise and tight quality control that guarantees strength and workability. It also feature high quality aggregate materials sourced from strategically located quarries. The site also offers Envisia brand is a lower carbon concrete with excellent performance benefits as well as plastic placement and finishing properties identical to conventional concretes. Also, Aspire brand remains the industry’s high-strength concrete specifically developed for the maximization of floorplans in the commercial alongside high-rise building and increase productivity.

References:

Davies, P. J., Gore, D. B., & Khan, S. J. (2015). Managing produced water from coal seam gas projects: implications for an emerging industry in Australia. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 22(14), 10981-11000.De Wolf, C., Pomponi, F., & Moncaster, A. (2017). Measuring embodied carbon dioxide equivalent of buildings: A review and critique of current industry practice. Energy and Buildings, 140, 68-80.Epstein, M. J. (2018). Making sustainability work: Best practices in managing and measuring corporate social, environmental and economic impacts. Routledge.Fowlie, M., Reguant, M., & Ryan, S. P. (2016). Market-based emissions regulation and industry dynamics. Journal of Political Economy, 124(1), 249-302.Hale, A., Borys, D., & Adams, M. (2015). Safety regulation: the lessons of workplace safety rule management for managing the regulatory burden. Safety science, 71, 112-122.O’Flynn, M. L. (2000). Manufactured sands from hardrock quarries: environmental solution or dilemma for southeast Queensland?. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 47(1), 65-73.Pepe, M. (2015). Concrete Industry: Waste Generation and Environmental Concerns. In A Conceptual Model for Designing Recycled Aggregate Concrete for Structural Applications (pp. 7-16). Springer, Cham.Percival, R. V., Schroeder, C. H., Miller, A. S., & Leape, J. P. (2017). Environmental regulation: Law, science, and policy. Wolters Kluwer Law & Business.Tam, V. W. (2009). Comparing the implementation of concrete recycling in the Australian and Japanese construction industries. Journal of Cleaner production, 17(7), 688-702.