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Committing to environmental improvements

World Cement,

Suez Cement Group of Companies, a subsidiary of the Italcementi Group – the world’s fifth biggest cement producer, is one of the largest and oldest cement producers in Egypt. Its industrial network comprises five production facilities, which are located in Suez, Kattameya, Tourah, Helwan and El Minya.

All SCGC plants are ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certified. They are also subject to comprehensive audits by the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency to ensure full compliance with local standards.

SCGC employs more than 3500 direct staff, all of whom participate in ongoing safety training and advancement programmes at each plant. The company follows international safety, environmental and energy policies, a philosophy that embodies the foundation of a sustainable workplace for staff as well as the communities where SCGC operates.

The team at the waste processing plant.

Since 2005, Suez Cement Group of Companies (SCGC) has invested a significant percentage of its industrial investments in the implementation of comprehensive environmental and safety policy.

SCGC understands that the cement industry must take a leadership role in consolidating sustainability at the root of its business. The company has therefore made environmental protection one of its key corporate pillars, driven by its comprehensive energy policy. This policy forms part of the driving force behind efforts to move toward a low-carbon economy and develop feasible environmental solutions in partnership with the government and other players in the building materials sector.

As part of SCGC’s ongoing efforts to reduce adverse environmental impacts, regular consultations and information sessions are held with local stakeholders. A company-wide Compliance Action Plan was launched in 2012, with key goals set to be reached this year.

In that vein, the company has implemented numerous long-term projects at its plants that are designed to reduce emissions, pollution and waste. In fact, in 2013, SCGC received several awards from the Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs for its comprehensive environmental management and performance programmes.

The Suez plant.

The Kattameya plant was honoured with the ‘2013 Greenest Company in Egypt’ first prize certificate in recognition of its ongoing initiatives designed to reduce the environmental impact of cement production.

Environmental projects

Reducing emissions

Last November, SCGC launched a new, state-of-the-art filtration system at its Helwan plant. The filter system reduces dust emissions levels to a maximum of 10 mg/m3, which is well below Egyptian and European standards.

In addition, a project to convert electrostatic precipitators to baghouses at the Kattameya, Suez and Minya plants was approved in 2013 with a budget of LE116.7 million.

Alternative fuel utilisation

In light of the fuel crisis currently affecting Egypt, SCGC is working to replace traditional fossil fuels with alternative fuels, and thereby decrease its total CO2 emissions. Meanwhile, waste heat recovery is being explored as a promising option in terms of electricity production or district heating.

On 25 and 26 July 2013, SCGC began construction of innovative waste fuel projects at the Helwan and Kattameya plants. Both have been registered with the Clean Development Mechanism Executive Board of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The purpose of these two projects is to increase the percentage of energy it produces from refuse-derived fuels. Also known as alternative fuel, this RDF is comprised of agricultural waste that includes rice straw, and cotton stalks. The hope is that RDF will soon comprise 14% of the company’s overall energy mix.

Looking to renewable energy

As for renewable energy, Italgen, a subsidiary of the Italcementi Group, has signed agreements with the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company to develop the first privately owned and operated wind farm in Egypt. Phase I is slated to produce 120 MW of electricity and cost €140 million, with the aim of eventually producing 400 MW of power in the next phases.

The deal will see Italgen build wind turbines in the Gulf El Zeit, which is currently under development, just north of Hurghada. The electricity will be transmitted to plants run by SCGC as part of the company’s plans to incorporate a higher percentage of renewable power in all of its facilities.

The government’s goal is for 20% of the country’s electricity, approximately 7000 MW, to come from renewable sources, such as solar, water and wind, by 2020. To reach this ambitious target, it is essential that the private sector participate and fund similar projects to ensure that the renewable energy sector meets its full potential.

The Kattameya plant.

Sustainable products

Furthermore, the company’s products are made with sustainable environmental practices in mind. SCGC controls the quality of each cement type and strength class through its Quality Management System. The goal is to consolidate the company’s strategy to improve the quality of its products, processes and services, thereby creating added value along the life cycle of products.

Water management

Water has been increasingly recognised as a key factor in sustainable development by major industrial sectors, including building materials producers. Cement production requires water to produce ‘slurry’ in wet process kilns, cool gases, improve the efficiency of process filters, control fugitive dust and cool mechanical equipment.

SCGC is striving to improve water management practices and efficient water use as well as apply reporting processes in this area in line with the 2010 WBCSD Global Water Measurement Tool. Some 70% of total water withdrawals were monitored by counters. The remaining 30% are set to be counted by the end of 2014.

Quarry rehabilitation

Last but not least, the Egyptian group is currently implementing four quarry rehabilitation projects, three of which were undertaken voluntarily. In 2007, SCGC began the first rehabilitation plan by refilling its clay quarry near the Tourah plant, which is the oldest quarry in the country. The other two refilling projects are located in the Suez plant’s clay quarry, while the fourth involves planting palm trees around the Kattameya clay quarry to create a barrier between the site and the highway.

“Our hope is that others see us as a leader in environmental protection and are inspired to follow our lead. Our aim is to ensure Egypt’s natural resources can be enjoyed by future generations to come,” explained Mr Carré, CEO of Suez Cement.

Written by Suez Cement Group of Companies, Egypt. This is an abridged version of the full article, which appeared in the November 2014 issue of World Cement. Subscribers can view the full article by logging in.

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