Zinc is a gift of nature for the benefit of mankind.
It exists naturally in rock, soil, air and water. Zinc
is present everywhere in the environment and is continuously
mobilised and transported by natural processes such as
erosion, forest fires, aerosol formation above the sea
and volcanic eruptions.
life on earth has evolved in the presence of zinc, which
is used by nature for
many biological processes.
All living organisms – including man, animals,
fish, plants and micro-organisms – need zinc for
growth and development. Zinc intake is regulated by each
organism’s natural processes.
One of zinc’s
most remarkable characteristics is its ability to protect
is a drain on the economy, estimated to cost at least
4% of GDP in industrialised countries. The life and durability
of steel is greatly improved when coated with zinc. No
other material known to man can provide such efficient
and cost-effective protection for steel.
steel against corrosion and prolonging its useful life,
zinc helps save the energy that would
otherwise be needed for the replacement of corroded steel
structures and manufactured goods. It has been estimated,
for example, that the use of zinc coated steel in Sweden
saves the country the energy equivalent of one nuclear
power plant each year. Thus, by contributing to lower
energy consumption, the use of zinc to protect steel
impacts positively on the problem of climate change.
Life cycle costing of public infrastructure shows how
significant the savings are: longer service life, lower
maintenance costs, and longer payback on investment.
30% of the global zinc supply comes from recycled zinc,
both new and old scrap.
80% of all the zinc used today will be recycled sooner
or later. Due to the long life span of many zinc products – over
100 years in some cases – much of the zinc used
in the past is still in service. Zinc recycling technology
is advancing and the supply of zinc available for recycling
is growing too. Zinc can be recycled indefinitely, without
loss of its physical or chemical properties, thus constituting
a valuable and sustainable resource for future generations.
advances in medical science are revealing the importance
zinc for the
proper functioning of the
immune system, the transfer of nervous signals, the expression
of genes and many other vital functions. Zinc supplementation
is proving successful in the fight against major causes
of child mortality such as diarrhoea, pneumonia and malaria.
Zinc is known to be vital to the functioning of more
than 300 enzymes in the human body. Research is also
showing, however, that as much as half the world’s
population is at risk from zinc deficiency, with even
greater numbers at risk in developing countries and among
poor populations. Zinc supplementation is proving to
be an effective and cheap intervention that can greatly
improve the health status of groups at risk.
used to purify water, thus contributing a small solution
to one of the great
environmental problems of
the planet. Recyclable zinc-air batteries successfully
power electric vehicles, offering another solution to
the problem of urban air quality. Zinc is a major constituent
of brass, a health protective metal due to its bacteriostatic
qualities. Zinc is an important pharmaceutical ingredient,
providing daily skin care and protection against the
harmful rays of the sun. Zinc is needed in fertilizers
that boost crop yields and so help feed the world’s
growing population. And zinc is present everyday, everywhere
in our homes and household appliances, fittings, tools
and toys, in our offices and computers, our cars, trains