2021, like 2020, was good for the natural stone sector, in part because of the Covid-19 pandemic: unable to go on vacation or to restaurants, and with no opportunities to show off new clothes, citizens put their money into beautifying their homes, in many cases with natural stone.
This consumer focus is unlikely to change much in 2022. In any case, the furniture industry and furnishings sector are expecting a good year, with some voices predicting greater spending by customers now on gardens with their associated terraces, pools, barbecue corners, etc.
However, for the natural stone sector the growth will not be limitless, because: more and more the lack of skilled workers is emerging as a problem. This will be one of the great challenges of the coming years.
For 2022, the topic of “green“ will also continue to be a challenge for the natural stone sector. It is to be praised here that associations and companies have already scientifically worked out the strengths of their material in studies and are propagating them.
But this is not enough.
Because: a wind of change is blowing through the industrialized countries – it is the serious effort of the companies to come to less energy and resource consumption.
A tremendous process is underway, and it will bring a turning point, similar to the transition from agrarian economies to fossil fuel-based industrial societies after 1830. Steam engine and railroad were the keywords at that time.
The stone sector must not sleep through the new zero-carbon trend, otherwise within a decade, when everyone else is promoting their materials with new “green“ qualities, they will be back with a material that will then again be considered unfashionable.
At the moment, the most important field of action for the stone sector is recycling:
* it must find uses for the leftover pieces from quarrying and processing. These can be nice little things with which money can be earned, but above all marketing can be done;
* it must create chains of recycling, so that stones that have already been in use do not merely go into the gravel but are reconditioned and reused. This will not be feasible for all areas.
* the topic “ecology/climate“ must appear in a prominent place on the companies’ websites, i.e.: as a separate item in the navigation. There the head of the company should say something about it, because “being green“ is a matter for the boss.
* finally: The stone sector has so far developed too few ideas on how energy consumption can be reduced with the help of its materials also in living, not only in construction. One issue here is the high storage capacity that stone has for both heat and cold.
* Last but not least: stone stands for luxury, for high value – how can excess or waste be separated from this?
(10,01.2022, USA: 01.10.2022)