Our symbiotic solution for recycling and recovering oil waste

22 March 2017

You may have seen oil’s impact the environment in the news before, but did you know it’s also a sticky subject in waste management? Our Geocycle teams have a unique answer for handling the challenges of this stream!


Thanks to the expertise of our Geocycle teams, LafargeHolcim can offer actors in the petroleum industry an alternative to sending their oil sludge to landfill: it’s called co-processing. This approach consists in the simultaneous recycling and recovery of mineral and energy content of the waste used as alternative fuel and raw material in cement manufacturing. A perfect example of the Group’s innovative solutions that support the circular economy by offering industrial partners a safe, local and sustainable solution!

From contaminated lagoons…

Oil sludge is inevitable waste generated during the drilling process that’s often left to stockpile until it forms large lagoons that can be up to 2 meters deep. This toxic waste may infiltrate into the groundwater and soil, causing widespread environmental contamination as well as human health hazards for local communities.

… to rehabilitated farmland and recycled materials! 

In response, our Geocycle teams have developed an innovative solution for depolluting these lagoons around the world so they can be rehabilitated and used for growing crops. First, the waste is extracted from the lagoons, transported and transformed into a homogenous mix. This composition is then co-processed in a LafargeHolcim cement plant, where its material component is recycled and its energy recovered in our kilns.

Our co-processing approach, when coupled with expert pretreatment, provides a practical, cost effective and environmentally preferred option to landfills and waste-to-energy incineration. Here are a few reasons why:

  • It ensures an optimal use of the waste thanks to this simultaneous recycling and recovery process and leaves no residual waste
  • It fully destroys the contaminants
  • It contributes to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and to the transition towards a less fossil dependent industry
  • It’s supervised by a reliable and transparent actor in waste management: Geocycle

Win-win: creating an industrial symbiosis

Thomas Guillot, Head of Geocycle Europe explains: "Across Europe, our teams can be present at every stage of the value chain to create a virtuous loop out of trash called industrial symbiosis. This symbiosis is a win-win relationship: the oil industry eliminates its waste thanks to our expert services and LafargeHolcim benefits from the recycled materials and recovered energy generated by this technique." Plus, co-processing activities support one of LafargeHolcim’s strategic priorities: lowering our carbon footprint by increasing the use of circular economy practices in our operations.


Preparing an oil sludge site for depollution

Oil sludge is a particularly difficult (not to mention costly) waste to treat since it’s a mixture of soil and a high water content. The lagoons are made up of four layers: 10% oil, 40% water, 40% sludge, and 10% contaminated soil.
No match for our Geocycle teams!


1 gram

The amount of oil capable of contaminating several thousand liters of drinking water.

That’s why co-processing in a cement plant is a safe, original and powerful solution for treating oil waste.