In the last few years, we have become very familiar with the word “shortage.” Supply chain disruptions and issues in finding employees in industries everywhere have led to shortages of all kinds. But are we running low on sand, too? Sand?!

Yes, there is a sand shortage. The little particles that make their way into your toes and shoes at the beach or in the desert are truly running low. That’s because our cities continue to grow, and we use sand to create so many things.

Why is there a sand shortage?

Urban areas around the world are growing at a rapid pace. Materials of all kinds are needed to construct buildings and streets, and that is where sand is most needed.

Sand is an essential ingredient for asphalt, glass, and concrete — all items used in the construction of a city or a building.

We are using so much sand that Mother Nature can’t replace it fast enough. And as the world continues to grow, the issue of sand shortage will become a greater problem.

Is there a solution?

There is sand on various parts of the Earth, but not all sand that you see can be used for construction purposes. For example, desert sand grains from certain parts of the world, such as the Sahara Desert, are too fine and not strong enough for use.

There are many different research teams looking for ways to use desert sand. As an alternative, crushed stone can be used. However, it is usually more costly to use this, and not everywhere has the right types of stones to use.

One solution is to hone and improve recycling techniques, so concrete can be reused to make new buildings. This may reduce the amounts of sand required — from Hong Kong, Cambodia, and Vietnam to the United States, Australia, and Europe.

Remember, though: Sand grains are mostly made of quartz, which is ultimately used in the production of silicon chips. This has been true since the 20th century. So there are more reasons than just construction to pay attention to this situation.

In the end, more continued research is needed to ensure we can find ways to find how to keep sand — a precious and valuable resource — available for future use.

Although we may not be in a sand crisis per se, sand resources are dwindling. As the demand for sand climbs as a growing number of developing countries import sand requiring sand extraction, this natural resource problem must be addressed.

The United Nations Environment Programme has devoted resources to this topic. Sand and gravel producers are also well aware of the challenges.

Let the precast concrete experts at Rogue Valley Precast know if you have any questions.

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Logo RPV in white Partners