Skip to main content

Regulations, targets and trends in the cement industry

World Cement,

The Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI) has undertaken a detailed review of the last 11 years of progress to provide stakeholders with a summary of the achievements with regards to the initial commitments made as part of the CSI ‘Agenda for Action’ in 2002. This progress report, to be published in 2012, will also indicate some further commitments for the coming years, taking into account the views and expectations of the sector’s stakeholders. To that purpose, the most comprehensive stakeholder engagement project undertaken so far has recently been completed.

As a result of work initially undertaken in 2010, in order to identify what the CSI’s mission and work programme should be going forward, a number of potential future environmental issues facing the industry were identified. These included: air quality, energy and carbon management, biodiversity and land stewardship, and water. In addition, three further areas of development in the broader sustainability context were also examined; employee health and safety, supply chain management, and sustainable construction. Stakeholder consultation and engagement was then sought in the form of a three-stage process.

Stage one of the engagement involved interviews with the co-chairs of each of the eight task forces currently active within the CSI. Stage two included interviews and discussions with a wide range of NGOs, think-tanks, trade organisations, media, other observers and influencers who have a role in the cement sector. The final stage of the programme was undertaken using an online survey tool generating almost 300 responses from stakeholders around the world.

Eleven areas of activity were identified by the survey respondents. They were (in order of importance): energy efficiency, alternative fuels and raw materials, worker health and safety, CO2 emissions, community health and safety, air quality and (non CO2) emissions, sustainable construction, low-carbon cement products, recycling of concrete, water, and biodiversity and land stewardship.

As well as addressing energy-related, air quality, and health and safety issues, it is worth noting the emerging and future trends, such as biodiversity, water, and the use of concrete in sustainable construction.

Carbon – continuing trends

As identified throughout the stakeholder engagement process, energy and carbon management continue to be important issues. Extensive work has been undertaken by the CSI to identify ways in which greenhouse gas mitigation can be achieved. The CSI was instrumental in introducing the concept of sectoral approaches to the debate at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) talks in 2009 and has continued to develop the argument subsequently. The Cement Technology Roadmap, the first industry-specific roadmap for the reduction of CO2 emissions, was published in partnership with the International Energy Agency (IEA). A customised version of the 2009 worldwide roadmap is now being developed in India, on the basis of the Indian economic and sustainable context. It will be complemented by examples of how this Indian-tailored roadmap can translate into real implementation projects at plant levels in 2012 and beyond. This technology roadmap will need to be complemented with appropriate financial mechanisms and policy support, particularly on issues such as the use of alternative fuels and carbon capture and storage. The CSI will continue to take part in the debate to develop such tools.

Biodiversity, water and sustainable construction

Biodiversity is a significant concern for operators in the cement industry, and the experience and skills of cement companies in quarry rehabilitation and land management are of vital importance in the preservation and enhancement of biodiversity and ecosystems. In 2011, the CSI published guidelines for quarry rehabilitation and expects these to become international best practice in the near future.

Water is also increasingly recognised as a critical issue for sustainable development. Having conducted a scoping exercise on water, the CSI has created a task force to handle water issues, agree on common key performance indicators (KPIs) and identify potential tools to conduct risk assessments at the local levels associated with water management.

The use phase of cement is also now being examined and discussed more widely than ever before. The role of concrete in sustainable construction will play a part in the future work to be undertaken by the CSI and its members. This will require wider collaboration with other stakeholders outside the cement industry and an improved understanding of building use. The development of low carbon cement products is an important emerging trend, as is the reuse of concrete at the end of a structure’s life.

The cement industry is in a very different place today than it was ten years ago. Emerging trends are well understood and, where appropriate, common reporting methodologies have been developed and agreed at CSI level; targets have been set by members and the wider industry to ensure that the sector performs well with regards to environmental and other sustainability standards. It has always been the CSI’s role to push beyond compliance and encourage action beyond regulation, which has so far delivered significant results. 

This article is an abridged version of the full article, which appeared in the January 2012 issue of World Cement. Subscribers can access the full article by downloading the issue here.

Read the article online at:

You might also like




At WCT2021 you will hear from a range of industry leaders and technical experts as they discuss the key challenges facing the cement industry and the latest solutions on offer. Register for free today »


Embed article link: (copy the HTML code below):