EPA asks states to get to grips with sand

Millions of tons of sand discarded every year by the USA's metal casting industry could be put to better use, according to the country's Environmental Protection Agency.

Foundries underpin many sectors of American industry, with the parts they produce used by transport, construction, agriculture and producers of military weaponry.

The industry uses approximately 100 million tons of sand annually to produce moulds and while the majority is reused, around 10% goes to waste.

The EPA argues that as most of the sand disposed of is not hazardous there are many good uses for it and it should not be shipped off to landfill.

The agency has produced a guide for state governments, The State Toolkit for Developing Beneficial Reuse Programs for Foundry Sand, which outlines ways to break down existing administrative barriers that prevent much of the sand being used in road building, construction fill and cement manufacturing.

Agency officials also hope the toolkit will inspire governors to consider more sustainable use of waste from other heavy industries.

“While the toolkit can help states promote beneficial reuse of foundry sand,” said an agency spokesperson.

“It is also helpful to states when starting or revising programs aimed at a much wider range of industrial byproducts, such as coal combustion by-products and construction and demolition debris.”

Like the sector plans of the Environment Agency of England and Wales, the EPA’s toolkit was developed in partnership with the industry itself, using inside knowledge and expertise to address environmental issues.

The EPA’s Resource Conservation Challenge, which produced the toolkit, is also looking into ways to make better use of two other industrial byproducts – construction and demolition waste and residual waste from coal combustion.

Sam Bond

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