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Editorial comment

Last month, I highlighted some of the ways that the cement industry is working to reduce its environmental footprint, such as leveraging new technologies, pushing for new legislation, and funding conservation projects.


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More good news along these lines comes from India. Mahendra Singhi, Managing Director and CEO of Dalmia Cement, was recently interviewed on the subject of moving towards a greener cement industry: “We are looking at ways to replace clinker (which consumes more heat and power) with flyash and slag and how to replace coal with waste material, which has carbon value. We are also looking at using more energy efficient equipment, such as motors, so that the power consumption comes down, thus helping the industry to bring down carbon emissions.”1 Singhi went on to point out that India’s cement industry is already ahead of the curve in terms of emissions output, noting that CO2 output was typically in the range of 670 – 700 kg/t of cement (with some examples as low as 550 – 600 kg/t) compared to a global average of 900 kg/t. He added: “There would be at least five Indian companies among the top ten global cement manufacturers that are contributing to a low carbon economy.”2

However, despite the efforts of some major cement producers, hurdles still remain when it comes to demand from customers. Jens Diebold, Head of Sustainability at LafargeHolcim, was quoted by Bloomberg as saying: “There is so far too little demand for sustainable materials […] There is limited sensitivity for carbon emissions in the construction of a building.”3 The problem seems to be that whilst developers are very sensitive to the environmental impact of their finished construction, they place less focus on the impact of the materials used in the building process. As might be expected, cost plays a deciding factor. According to Lennart Henriz, Chairman of the sub-commission on environment at the European Construction Industry Federation, “There are cement products with lower environmental impact, but they usually cost more than the normal ones.”4

One solution for producers could be Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS) technology, which can prevent CO2 from entering the atmosphere and even enable it to be used to create other products. Indeed, CCS is already being rolled out and trialled at various facilities around the world, such as at Anhui Conch’s Baimashan Cement Plant in China.

Whichever route the cement industry decides to take, World Cement will be here to bring you the latest news and industry updates.

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