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Editorial comment

Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, cement producers and equipment suppliers are continuing to prioritise reducing their environmental impact and eliminating emissions.

LafargeHolcim is one such example. The global player recently announced that it has joined the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) ‘Business Ambition for 1.5°C’, making it the first global building materials company to sign the pledge with intermediate targets for 2030, validated by SBTi.

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As part of its goals for 2030, LafargeHolcim will further lower its target for CO2 intensity in cement to 475 kg net CO2/t of cementitious material, double waste-derived fuel usage to 37%, scale up the use of calcined clay and develop novel cements with new binders. Europe is on track to become the first region to reach this net zero ambition, building on the company’s CHF160 million investment roadmap launched last year. The company is also partnering with SBTi to develop a roadmap for aligning climate targets to a 1.5°C future in the cement sector.

Emissions reduction is not the only metric by which environmental impact should be measured. The Portland Cement Association gave its 2020 Land Stewardship award to LafargeHolcim’s Holly Hill cement plant in South Carolina for going ‘above and beyond’ in its efforts to reduce its environmental impact. The plant’s efforts include a multi-million dollar project to re-divert a local stream, Home Branch Creek, back to its original path, thereby securing the future of nearby wetlands and natural floodplains.

Another major name in the industry, HeidelbergCement, has announced a similar set of ‘medium term’ climate goals as part of its ‘Beyond 2020’ strategy. One of these goals is to reduce specific net CO2 emissions to below 525 kg/t of cementitious material by 2025 (a 30% reduction compared to 1990 levels) – this particular goal has been brought forward from its initial deadline of 2030. The company plans to further reduce this figure to below 500 kg/t of cementitious material by 2030. A further goal of the company is to offer an entirely CO2-neutral concrete by 2050 at the latest.

We see climate change and digitalisation as the two central challenges of the future for society and for our company,” commented Dr. Dominik von Achten, CEO of HeidelbergCement. “As one of the world’s leading building materials producers, we have the ambition and the innovative strength to actively shape this change in a pioneering role. At the same time, we see further optimisation potential in our plants and processes. Ecology and economy are not contradictory. Our new medium-term targets for 2025 illustrate this claim.”

“Ecology and economy are not contradictory” is a phrase that everyone should keep in mind. Emissions regulations are only going to tighten over the coming years, and customers are more environmentally aware than ever; in other words, the economic incentives for a greener cement industry grow with each passing day.

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