The cement industry is fully aware of the issues concerning sustainability but it cannot solve these issues individually, according to Per Mejnert Kristensen of FLSmidth.
Kristensen, who is region president for Asia at the Danish-based cement and mining products and solutions company, was speaking about sustainability and the role of the cement industry at the second annual Global Cement and Concrete Association (GCCA) Conference in Singapore.
On October 10, he joined other industry leaders on a panel regarding innovation in the cement industry. Kristensen’s focus was sustainable productivity, but he expanded the panel discussions to include how sustainability goals should be considered throughout the industry.
“We must form closer, new partnerships and leverage each other’s diverse competencies, both within and beyond cement, to solve these issues,” he said.
As concrete is one of the most widely used construction materials in the world, the relationship between cement and sustainability has been long and complex. To supply the expanding world population with basic infrastructure like homes, schools, and hospitals, society will need an estimated 4.8 billion annual metric tonnes of cement by 2030.
At current practices the environmental impact will be substantial, but Kristensen said the fact remains that no other construction material currently exists that is as functional and versatile as concrete. Therefore, to provide future generations with quality infrastructure, he urged partners in the industry to join in the pursuit of transforming practises towards more sustainable production.
“We have made substantial progress in recent years with massive investment in new technology to reduce emissions, fuel, and power consumption. Similarly, we have been advancing the use of waste-derived fuels and processes for calcined clay,” said Kristensen. “But, to honour our commitment to the Paris Agreement and our responsibility to future generations the fight doesn’t end here.”
Collectively, the cement industry has seen steady demand and economic growth for decades. However, Kristensen said that shared-heritage comes with an obligation to contribute to cement-related sustainability issues.
“I believe that the ingenuity and innovation needed to minimise our environmental footprint is all around us,” said Kristensen. “Some is within the industry itself, some in partnerships with colleagues from other industries, and some from experts within society in general.”
During the conference on October 10, FLSmidth was one of the initial companies to join GCCA’s Innovandi – Global Cement and Concrete Research Network. The newly-announced network ties together the cement and concrete industry with scientific institutions to drive and support global innovation with actionable research. It aims to decisively build on the industry’s sustainability progress with focus on emission reduction and better use of alternative fuels.
Kristensen said FLSmidth has declared 2019 as the Year of Sustainability. He added that the company is addressing the issue of sustainability from every possible angle including continuing to improve products and processes. FLSmidth says that the innovation pipeline promises new ground-breaking technologies within emissions control and alternative fuels.
In addition to these internal process optimisation efforts, FLSmidth says it is exploring how to take its sustainability efforts further by reaching out to others inside and outside of the cement industry. The company says it hopes to learn their best practices and adapt them for the cement industry.
This story first appeared on out sister title Aggregates Business.