UN environment agency warns of effects of rising sand use

The U.N.'s environment program is warning about overuse of sand resources, saying three-fold demand over the last 20 years amid increasing population, urbanization and infrastructure building has brought impacts like beach erosion, flooding and drought

In a new report launched Tuesday, UNEP urged a re-think about the use of the world's second-most extracted resource, after water, by industry, governments and the public.

UNEP said demand for sand and gravel amounts to 40-50 billion tons every year, and pointed to the need for conservation, recycling and a look for alternatives like sawdust.

Pascal Peduzzi, director of a UNEP program with the University of Geneva, said more thought needs to be taken: "We aren't very smart about how we use sand, because we think: This is just sand."