Aggregates, a base component of construction materials such as concrete, are the most extracted raw materials in the world. They add strength to the composite materials and serve as a reinforcement,
Today, the European Aggregates Industry represents a sector of more than 15,000 companies, mostly SMEs. Some 2.7 billion tonnes of aggregates are produced every year and the industry employs some 200,000 people across Europe.
The Brussels-based industry association UEPG represents members from across 24 countries for whom it actively lobbies the European institutions and other stakeholders on issues key to the industry.
Since 1987, the association has promoted the interests of the European Aggregates Industry by representing its national member associations on health & safety, environmental, economic and technical policy. Also, UEPG increasingly contributes to enhancing biodiversity, by providing appropriate ecosystems for both fauna and flora during and after our extraction activity.
“We have a particular focus on health and safety, access to local resources, recycling, excellence in environmental stewardship and biodiversity,” says President Thilo Juchem*.
After water and air, aggregates are the most used materials. There is no question about how essential our industry is to the European economy, Juchem says. “The European sector is a truly local industry of global importance. The question is not whether we need it, but how to supply aggregates in the most sustainable way.”
UEPG’s objectives are the continued and uninterrupted supply of essential building materials, whilst retaining jobs and contributing to Europe’s competitiveness and contributing to Europe’s heritage within a sustainable production.
Through it lobbying and communication work, UEPG and its members have developed a close working relationship with the key European institutions as well as environmental NGOs.
“The Aggregates Industry is indispensable for the well-being of our modern society. It is the backbone of infrastructure, private and commercial housing and is essential for our built environment,” Juchem explains.
The producers operate 26,000 extraction sites all across Europe and is in the ideal position to contribute to the EU’s Natura2000 network and other environmental protected areas before, during and after extraction with projects such as Temporary Nature, Life in Quarries and Nature after Minerals.
“The steady availability of aggregates is taken for granted by many and only to become a political priority when facing a shortage of supply,” the UEPG president adds.
“This is why UEPG and its members decided to strengthen its efforts on public affairs and PR & Communication to ensure the visibility and positive image of the European Aggregates Industry. Our industry is a part of the solution for numerous challenges.
Over the past 30 years UEPG has built-up an excellent network of experts in the areas of technical, environmental, economic and health & safety matters. It has launched projects and intensified cooperation with EU Institutions, Partners, NGOs, Trade Unions and Academia to become a recognised and trusted partner.”
In 2016-2017, UEPG focused on contributing to the EU Raw Materials Strategy, the Circular Economy Package, the Natura 2000 Fitness-Check and the Action Plan on better implementation, the compatibility of business and biodiversity, safer and healthier work places.
It has been involved in the review the of the NEPSI Social Dialogue Agreement, calling for an ambitious EU Industrial Strategy and on officially endorsing the EU Protocol for the management of Construction and Demolition Waste.
“In our dialogue with the European institutions, UEPG has been insisting on the need for better implementation and regulatory enforcement of EU legislation, rather pushing for new pieces of EU or national legislative proposals,” Juchem explains.
UEPG has also implemented numerous initiatives generating value or savings for aggregates producers and has been promoting good practice, which goes beyond what is expected. “Good examples will be put on display in November at the EU’s Sustainable Development Awards Ceremony in Brussels, which will showcase many applicants from all over Europe,” the UEPG president adds.
UEPG is a strong supporter of innovation across the industry and welcomes the ‘Electric Site’ project which Volvo CE is conducting with Skanska to electrify the operations of a quarry. “This project to reduce the carbon footprint of the excavation process is truly very innovative and at the same time really makes sense,” Thilo Juchem adds. “It offers many advantages such as not having to deal with diesel and could also entail less maintenance on equipment.
“Economically it could be very practical and promote a net positive energy extraction process.”
*Thilo Juchem, Executive Director (Geschäftsführung), F.L. Juchem & Söhne GmbH & Co. KG