Cement industry group aims for zero waste

Cement industry group aims for zero waste
Published: 21 July 2009

The Cement Sustainability Initiative wants to reduce the concrete landfill rate to zero by boosting awareness of the benefits of reusing concrete in a new report, “Recycling Concrete.”

Since concrete is a downstream product of cement, cement producers note they can only have an indirect role in supporting the zero waste goal. It has also tried to reduce environmental impacts in other ways, such as slowing the rate of greenhouse gas emissions growth; the cement industry is responsible for about five per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

One way to do improve the concrete recycling rate is to increase awareness of the recycling opportunities. When crushed, for instance, it can take the place of the aggregate materials in concrete. Up to 30 per cent of recycled concrete aggregate can be used in structural concrete in Australia without sacrificing strength or workability, according to the government. Crushed concrete is also used in roadwork.

Both reuse scenarios cut the need for new virgin aggregate materials and prevent tons of recyclable material from entering landfills.

To get concrete’s landfill rate to zero, the Cement Sustainability Initiative recommends better data collection and statistics that is publicly reported, the creation of targets for recycled concrete use on road construction and building sectors, research to identify recycling best practices, economic and regulatory incentives for concrete recycling and increased education to raise awareness of the benefits of recycling concrete.

The Cement Sustainability Initiative, formed under the auspices of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, is made up of 18 cement companies responsible for about a third of the world’s cement production, such as Lafarge, Cemex, Holcim and Ash Grove Cement.