Our priorities
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Fighting climate change

Lafarge develops and implements a comprehensive climate change strategy. The Group surpassed its 2010 objectives 1 year in advance and set itself 3 new targets for 2015 and 2020. 

Reducing CO2 emissions

Lafarge is aware of challenge which climate change presents for the entire planet. Since 2001, the Group committed itself to ambitious objectives in the framework of a pioneering partnership with WWF. Lafarge has fulfilled and surpassed in advance its 2010 objectives. Specifically:

 

  • - 10% absolute gross emissions* in industrialized countries: they were cut by 36.5% in the Cement business between 1990 and 2010,
  • - 20% net emissions* per ton of cement produced worldwide: they fell by 21.7% between 1990 and 2010.

 

(* Gross/net emissions: net emissions equal gross emissions minus emissions related to the burning of waste.)

 

Going beyond plants

 

The construction sector accounts for 40% of the global energy demand, and for 30% of the overall greenhouse gas emissions.

 

In 2011, the Group announced it 2nd generation commitments, set up in the framework of the partnership with WWF International. Lafarge's 3 new targets for 2015 and 2020 are in line with a comprehensive, ambitious and original approach. They go beyond plants CO2 emissions and encapsulate the entire construction chain:

 

  • Reducing CO2 emissions per ton of cement produced by 33% between 1990 and 2020;
  • Developing 10 innovative products ranges and contributing to 500 sustainable construction projects by 2015;
  • Promoting CO2 performance enhancement policies, which are adapted to Lafarge's industry in international and professional organizations.

 

Relying on industrial ecology and innovation

 

To meet these objectives, the Group is:

 

  • reducing energy consumption,
  • modernizing its plants and constantly improving its industrial processes,
  • developing industrial ecology through alternative fuels and industrial waste, particularly slag, fly ash and pozzolan, to manufacture cement.

 

Lafarge also invests in research to:

 

  • develop clinker which produces less CO2. For example, new clinkers Aether incorporate less limestone and can be heated to lower temperatures, which will allow a 25 to 30% cut in CO2 emissions.
  • perfect processes which make more efficient use of energy,
  • optimize the composition of concrete and improve recycling.

CO2 and cement

Why does manufacturing cement produce CO2?

Cement manufacturing is the source of 5% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The cement making process necessarily entails the release of carbon dioxide:

  • 60% of emissions are due to the transformation of raw materials at high temperatures (decarbonation of limestone),

  • 40% result from the combustion needed to heat the cement kilns to 1500°C.

Our commitment and carbon reduction in Greece

We are taking multiple routes to tackling climate change and reducing the emissions associated with cement manufacture. Burning fossil fuels to produce clinker (from which cement is manufactured) produces CO2, so optimizing the combustion process and other types of energy efficiency reduce emissions, as does replacing fossil fuels with renewable or other alternatives. Thirdly, there is product innovation; the use of cement additives which are CO2 neutral, allow us to develop products that have a lower CO2 footprint.

 

Alternative raw materials

Since 1980, we have been using alternative raw materials that can substitute clinker in the cement. This is a more positive environmental option. To reduce our and our customer's carbon footprint we now use a wide variety of alternative materials: fly ash, different types of metallurgical slags, iron ore, soil from metal separation and glass recycle residue.

 

Alternative fuels

Within the context of climate change strategy, the issue of fossil fuels substitution with alternative is vital. As part of our Sustainability Ambitions 2020 we aim to use 40% non-fossil fuels, including biomass, our cement plants by 2020.

 

In 2013, we initiated co-processing of SSW (solid shredded waste) in Milaki plant as we concluded with the licensing procedures after delays of several years. SSW comes from local recycling plants (blue bins and industrial/commercial) and specifically from the recycling residue (mostly paper and wood) that otherwise would be land-filled. So far, the substitution accomplished is ​​at very low levels (4.8%), much lower than the current European practice, but we aim to increase it.

 

A contributor to our CO2 reduction has been the use of biomass as a fuel in substitution of fossil fuels. A new facility was initiated at the Volos Plant and started operation in May 2008.

 

Biomass, mostly cotton and corn stems, is delivered to the plant in bales and stored in a covered area in order to be then processed and be fed to the kiln. Total installed power amounts to approximately 300 KW. This is the culmination of a long-term project initiated in 2005. The use of locally produced biomass adds to the economic prosperity of the region.

Kiln at Volos plant

Kiln at Volos plant

Biomass used at Volos plant

New Athlos product

A real breakthrough in 2009 was the development of Athlos new bagged product. Beyond the fact that Athlos changed the paradigm, creating a niche market for masonry cements, its production releases per ton of cement approximately 65Kg less carbon dioxide compared to the former, conventional product.

Transport emissions

Using a special program (Trucks Control System, TCS) the Logistics Department seeks to optimize combined cargo transportation (land and sea), aiming at great reductions in fuel consumption, environmental burden, and cost.

 

Whether products are to be transported from the plants to the distribution centers or to customers, great effort is made to combine the return trips with cargos that need to be transported back to the plants.

 

Sustainable construction

The main global challenge for the cement industry is to facilitate economic growth while reducing CO2 intensity within the built environment. This means reducing the carbon intensity of our own operations, innovating in products (with a full environmental life-cycle assessment of the products at the heart of that process), but also making sure that our products are used in a way that diminishes the energy intensity of a building over its whole life. This activity is what is often called Sustainable Construction. Recognising its vital importance it is an area in which Lafarge has set out to give a lead.

 

Promoting sustainable construction

Lafarge has set itself the objective to build a common vision on climate change and CO2 performance, together with other industries and cement players, but also with its stakeholders.


The Group addresses all actors in the value chain and participates in partnerships and collective actions, such as:

  • the WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development),
  • the EEB (Energy Efficiency in Building) project,
  • the WBCSD Cement Sustainable Initiative (CSI), which was co-chaired by Bruno Lafont in 2010,
  • the Building Energy Foundation,
  • UNEP (United Nations Environment Program),
  • Upstream collaboration with clients, architects, engineering and construction companies in developed and emerging countries.
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Reporting on Sustainability Actions


The 2015 Heracles Sustainability Report constitutes the eighth consecutive annual publication and presents our performance and progress made in 2015. The report covers all necessary disclosures requirements for comprehensive in accordance to GRI G4.  

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LafargeHolcim. Cement, aggregates, Concrete.