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HeidelbergCement’s sustainability challenge

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World Cement,

The integration of Italcementi has proved a challenge to HeidelbergCement’s sustainability record, the company said in its latest Sustainability Report, with the German company now in the process of revising its sustainability targets in light of the integration process. The new reworked targets will extend the timeframe out to 2030.

“We need to take action in some areas to bring sustainability management up to the same high level at all production sites,” HeidelbergCement CEO, Bernd Scheifele, said in an interview published in the Sustainability Report. “We will be working on this in the year ahead and beyond.”

HeidelbergCement announces a 22.6% fall in carbon emissions per tonne of cement against a 1990 baseline in 2016 to 598 kg CO2/t cement. But crucially, the emissions per tonne fell to 581 kg CO2/t cement when Italcementi facilities were taken out of the equation.

In contrast, LafargeHolcim, the world’s largest cement maker, reported CO2 emissions per tonne of cement of 583 kg in 2016 – a 24% reduction against a 1990 baseline.

HeidelbergCement’s use of alternative fuels was also hit by the Italcementi integration. Alternative fuels use at legacy Italcementi plants remains relatively low compared with HeidelbergCement facilities, which had an average alternative fuel use rate of 23.6% in 2016, and a high rate of 70% at the Gorazdze plant in Poland.

“Following the integration of Italcementi, we will have to redefine the alternative fuel targets for our group,” the company said in its Sustainability Report. “The same applies to all of our other sustainability targets.”

That said, there was some silver lining, as the company committee to push R&D into more sustainable cement and clinker as its global research centre in Leiman, as well as into sustainable construction products at the former Italcementi development centre, the i.lab, in Bergamo.

“The combines R&D capacitied will open up new business opportunities for us, particularly with regard to sustainable construction,” Scheifele said.

Highlights of these research programmes includes the development of a new clinker technology, Ternocem, which emits roughly 30% less CO2 during production that conventional clinker, as well as concrete façade elements that are self-cleaning and reduce NOX emissions.

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