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Will Cement Really Achieve Its Carbon Neutral Goals?

We hear many cement and concrete companies are creating net-zero goals by the year 2050. Today’s cement and concrete companies worldwide are committing to achieve carbon neutrality across the value chain by 2050.

Consider the example of Continental Cement Co., which joined the journey to achieve carbon neutrality across the cement and concrete value chain by signing onto the Portland Cement’s Assn.’s Roadmap to Carbon Neutrality. PCA is aligned with the Global Cement and Concrete Assn.’s Roadmap.

In collaboration with PCA’s other member companies and experts, the roadmap demonstrates how the U.S. cement and concrete industry can collectively address climate change, decrease greenhouse gases, and eliminate barriers that are restricting environmental progress.

Continental Cement is a provider in the use of alternative fuels, deriving an average of 40-45% of the company’s total fuel usage from alternative fuels (based on 2019 usage). The company’s Hannibal Cement Plant co-processes both liquid and solid hazardous waste as a fuel source, while its Davenport Cement Plant uses non-hazardous alternative fuels from surrounding industrial facilities. Continental Cement’s subsidiary, Green America Recycling, is a crucial component for sourcing, securing, and implementing the company’s alternative fuel strategy. As such, Green America is in the process of expanding its Hannibal facility.

In addition to using alternative fuels in cement production, Continental Cement Co., is working with customers and specifiers to commercialize Portland Limestone Cement in all of its markets, which reduces concrete embodied carbon by approximately 10% while delivering resilient and durable infrastructure to communities.

Industry experts, researchers, policymakers, and companies along the value chain are imperative to realize the multitude of solutions that must be developed across policies and regulations, technology, innovation, and demand generation—creating both near-and long-term CO2 reduction opportunities and constantly striving toward carbon neutrality.

The PCA roadmap outlines a portfolio of reduction strategies and opportunities across the various phases of the built environment:

Across this full cement-concrete-construction value chain, the roadmap recognizes five main areas of opportunity: clinker, cement, concrete, construction, and carbonation (using concrete as a carbon sink). Each phase of the value chain is integral to reaching the goal and can unlock unique and specific pathways to carbon neutrality, including actions such as reducing CO2 from the manufacturing process, decreasing combustion emissions by changing fuel sources, and shifting toward increased use of renewable electricity.

This is simply one example. Given the significant role of cement in society and anticipated infrastructure development, it is critical that the industry comes together and acts now to create sustainable building solutions in the decades to come.

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