Sustainability Action Plan

Therese Dunphy

December 1, 2009

Travelling the path to sustainability starts with the first jump.

by Bill Langer

During the past year Lucy, Rosie, and I (pictured above) have used this column to run, jump, climb, tunnel, and weave through some of the challenges and rewards of sustainable aggregate resource management (SARM), with an occasional comparison to K-9 Agility. We hope that after having read a little bit about SARM and agility, some of you might be ready to try one or the other for yourself.

Although there is no specific process that must be followed when undertaking SARM or agility, we have prepared an agility course map for your consideration.

 Entering the course

Policy statements commonly point out that the aggregate industry contributes to jobs, wealth, and a high quality of life for citizens, and commits the company to identifying and addressing environmental, societal, operational, and economic concerns.

Negotiating the hurdles

Objectives and actions commonly evolve from policy. Objectives describe what is intended to be accomplished. Actions describe the approaches to reach the objectives. Examples of paired objectives and actions include:

  • Maximize availability of, and access to, aggregate by mine planning that allows for extraction of as much aggregate as possible from an area; using products for the most valuable application appropriate for the aggregate quality; and by facilitating use of recycled aggregate.
  • Minimize environmental impacts by following best management practices; and by allowing for reclamation as an integral part of the quarry/pit design process.
  • Minimize societal impacts and maximize societal benefits by forward planning that separates incompatible land uses; and by involving the local community in planning activities, monitoring, and outreach.
  • Reduce embodied energy and greenhouse gasses by increasing blasting and production efficiency, and reducing fuel consumption.
  • Identify and resolve legitimate stakeholder concerns by constructively contributing to a decision-making process that addresses not only the interests of the company, but a wide range of other citizens’ objectives and interests.

 Completing the course

Indicators measure progress toward reaching objectives and the effectiveness of actions taken. Examples of indicators include the following:

  • Total land area in operation compared to amount of saleable products;
  • Total number of reportable environmental incidents;
  • Total land area reclaimed as a percentage of land area in operation;
  • Total number of events arranged for neighboring communities; and
  • Energy consumption per ton of saleable product.

Monitoring, as well as regular evaluation and reconsideration, of requirements as events develop helps to refine the SARM process. The establishment of a joint monitoring process presents an opportunity to forge partnerships with communities and involve citizen groups.

If any of this sounds worth while, just remember, it all starts with the first jump.

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