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IGS launches Sustainability Committee

News | December 3, 2020 | By:

A new International Geosynthetics Society (IGS) committee has been created to further the understanding and use of geosynthetics in making a more sustainable world.

The IGS Sustainability Committee was formed during a recent virtual meeting of IGS officers and Council Committee members. Chaired by IGS Vice President Nathalie Touze, the new body aims to improve the understanding and adoption of geosynthetics as a key component in creating more sustainable projects.

Sustainability has been a hot topic in the IGS for some time, with communications largely focused on greenhouse gas and cost reductions using geosynthetics versus other solutions. However, as emphasized in the IGS Sustainability eBook, the society has endorsed and identified several of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals where geosynthetics currently make an impact and are well-positioned to serve as an important tool for current and future improvements.

The new committee will allow the IGS to consolidate sustainability information and activity more efficiently, and make it more easily available to share with target audiences. A top priority is communicating what the IGS and its members have been doing for sustainable development, including:

  • Swapping geosynthetics solutions for less sustainable construction techniques
  • Reintroducing in-house production polymer waste to feed stock
  • Manufacturing from recycled polymer, where appropriate
  • Designing products with high durability and endurance

“The sustainable benefits of using geosynthetics are generally linked to financial benefits. It does not cost more to be more sustainable by using geosynthetics,” said Dr. Touze.

Independent reports agree. For example, EAGM and WRAP studies show massive sustainability benefits in using geosynthetics versus other materials such as concrete, cement, lime and gravel.

Upcoming IGS activities on sustainability include:

  • An IGS review paper on Advances in Sustainable River Management: Reconciling Conflicting Interests Under Climate Extremes due in February 2021
  • Keynote speech by Neil Dixon at the Euroengeo conference in April 2021
  • Special Sustainability session at EuroGeo7 in Warsaw, Poland, in May 2021
  • IGS session at the 1st International Conference on Sustainability in Geotechnical Engineering – Geodiversity & Resilience on June 27-31, 2021, in Lisbon, Portugal

Dr. Touze added, “The IGS is committed to broadening the understanding of how geosynthetics can make a significant positive contribution in creating a more sustainable future for all. Our ambition is that geosynthetics be incorporated in every development and construction scheme worldwide.

The challenges are not going away, and the IGS’s decision to create a committee to address these issues is an indication of our commitment to be at the forefront of progress.”

The Sustainability Committee started as a Task Force in October 2019. The committee’s current members include Treasurer Ian Fraser (UK), Sam Allen (USA), Kasia Zamara (UK), Preston Kendall (Australia), Francesco Fontana (Italy), Hogan Kim (South Korea), Henning Ehrenberg (Germany), Justin Walls (South Africa), David Shercliff (UK) and Boyd Ramsey (USA).

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