Zinc for Life

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The Role of Zinc in a Sustainable Society

Sustainable Development as a guiding principle has become a societal, regulatory and market trend. The environmental and social 

attributes of materials and products are increasingly affecting design and purchasing decisions in key sectors such as building and construction and automotive manufacturing. There is a market shift toward high performance and environmentally responsible products.

In order to ensure market access and acceptance by decision-makers, and to develop innovative applications and grow markets, material suppliers need to adopt a systems approach: this means understanding the performance attributes of their materials and products throughout entire product chains; from the raw material to the use of the finished product and further to the end-of-life management.

Zinc in sustainable building and construction is an example. Sustainable development implies a careful balance of social, economic and environmental aspects as well as between present and future needs.

Today’s growth brings economic prosperity and welfare – but also a continuously growing demand for materials. Thus, a trade-off arises between societal benefits and the depletion of natural resources.

In order to make this growth sustainable, the materials used need to be either renewable or recyclable. Zinc building products like roofs, gutters and railings can last for generations, and after their useful life they can be recovered and re-used over and over again. Therefore, renewability and recyclability are complementary – and not conflicting – contributions to a sustainable future.

Zinc for Life Publications

Zinc...A Sustainable Material

This publication outlines zinc's essentiality for sustainable development through nine sections - natural, essentiality for the environment, durability, recyclability, essentiality for human health, essentiality for crops, a sustainable source of energy.

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Zinc Environmental Profile - Life Cycle Assessment

Understanding the environmental footprint of zinc starts with documenting the resource requirements (energy and non-energy) and environmental releases associated with zinc mining and refining, but it also involves understanding the impacts and the benefits of using zinc during other stages in the product life cycle. These benefits can arise in use (e.g. extending the life of galvanized steel products) and through end-of-life recycling (e.g. by utilizing recycled zinc to create new products).

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Zinc Sheet Environmental Profile - Life Cycle Assessment

Zinc sheet has a number of attributes that make it desirable for a range of applications. It is durable; for example, roofs made from zinc sheet can last for centuries. It is 100% recyclable, and for major applications such as roofing and wall claddings, the recycling rate reaches 95%. This high recycling rate means when recycled zinc is added to the smelting process, it significantly reduces the impacts of the production of the zinc used in zinc sheet. Zinc is also aesthetically pleasing, which means it is less likely to be replaced before needed.

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Sustainability Charter

Members of the International Zinc Association produce, distribute, use and recycle zinc to satisfy human needs for shelter, transportation, infrastructure, consumer products and food production.  Zinc is a sustainable material that is necessary for modern society and is essential to human, animal and crop health and well-being.  The International Zinc Association works to enhance zinc’s contribution to society and to ensure that its production and use are in harmony with the natural environment and the needs of society, now and in the future. In order to contribute to the betterment of society and build value for our shareholders, our business decisions and activities are guided by the following principles:

  • We recognize society’s desire for economic prosperity, environmental protection and social progress.  We will balance and align our activities in keeping with society’s goals.

  • We believe that our activities can create opportunities to raise people’s standards of living and improve their quality of life, enabling communities to prevent or reduce environmental degradation and alleviate poverty.

  • We are committed to ethical business practices and conduct our affairs in ways that demonstrate respect for human rights.We are committed to respect and support children's rights in the workplace, marketplace and community.

  • We are committed to developing, implementing and promoting the production and use of zinc in ways that help address climate change, including the reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs).

  • We acknowledge that neither our products nor our operations should present unacceptable risks to people or the environment.  We advocate the safe use and responsible management of zinc and products that contain zinc.

  • We obey all applicable laws and regulations and when local standards do not exist or are inadequate, we will establish and meet standards that protect human health and the environment.

  • We believe that decision-making should be based on scientific information and we therefore support research and monitoring to advance understanding of the impacts of the production, use and recycling or disposal of our products.

  • We encourage and support waste minimization through recycling and the recovery of zinc from the waste stream.

  • We value public consultation and citizen participation, and promote transparency and openness in our relationships.  We treat our workers, business partners and communities in a fair and respectful manner, recognizing that cultures, priorities and working conditions differ from country to country.

Second revision, adopted by IZA members during the Annual General Meeting, London, U.K., October 2011.

Guiding Principles

Business Ethics

Community Consultation

Sustainability Reporting

Employee Health & Safety

Environmental Management

Mine Closure

Mine Tailings
& Residue Management

Managing Minor Elements

Product Stewardship

Children's Rights in the Workplace

Climate Change