Holcim converts natural limestone and other minerals into clinker, which is further processed and sold for mixing construction concrete. Clinker production is not only energy intensive, but the carbon originally captured in limestone escapes during the production process. This results in the emission of large amounts of CO2.
Apart from the environmental impacts, carbon emissions in cement production are a measure of resource and energy efficiency.
- Therefore since 1990 we have strived to reduce CO2 emissions per ton of product.
- Holcim’s current target is to reduce its CO2 emissions per ton of cement by 25 percent by 2015, compared to the reference year of 1990.
- By the end of 2014, we had achieved a reduction of 23.9%, so are on track to achieve this target.
Our focus has been on the continuous reduction of clinker in cement through the use of carbon-neutral mineral components such as blast furnace slag or bottom fly ash from the power industry. Natural pozzolanic material such as volcanic ash rock can also be used in areas where this is available and viable. In 2014, Holcim had an average of 69.8% clinker in its cement – among the lowest in the industry.
A great potential for carbon reduction
But the global climate challenge requires an altogether more collaborative and far-reaching response. As a forward-looking and responsible company, our approach to sustainability must reach beyond our own business and encompass our entire value chain. Throughout the building lifecycle, there is great potential for carbon reduction so instead of focusing on just our own operations, we recognize our responsibility to make all the elements in our value chain more sustainable.
- Therefore, by 2030, we aspire to maintain net absolute CO2 emissions at 2013 levels, across the whole lifecycle of our products.
Avoiding a net increase in absolute carbon emissions is an ambitious undertaking. It requires us to cap our carbon footprint, regardless of the expected growth in the volume of cement we produce. It acknowledges that any increases in emissions from our operations will be offset or compensated through products, services and solutions that reduce emissions from buildings, infrastructure and transportation.
By doing so, we adopt a pioneering approach in our industry, becoming the first to not only monitor and account for CO2 savings beyond our own operations but also set a target on absolute emissions.