Lafarge Shui On Cement is actively reducing the environmental footprint of its cement production and contributing to social development in China. One of the company’s first steps has been to close down 38 high-energy consumption, obsolete vertical kilns and wet kiln production lines. To do so, it invested some US$ 900 million in technology upgrades and in new dry lines from 2005-2009.

Dust, NOx and SO2 emissions have been cut by 90%, 49% and 78% respectively per metric ton of clinker produced in the cement plants, and CO2 emissions have been reduced by 29% per metric ton of cement produced between 1990 and 2009. Lafarge Shui On Cement is continuing to explore further low-carbon energy solutions, including projects focusing on sludge usage, soil remediation and quarry rehabilitation.

In local communities throughout China, Lafarge Shui On Cement is actively engaging its stakeholders, sharing its experiences and providing the general public with a safe, comfortable and high-quality living environment. During a June 2009 CEO roundtable for the country’s leading cement companies organized by Lafarge Group and the China Cement Association, all participating cement companies signed a sustainable development declaration, the first common plan and commitment to sustainable development shared by China’s top cement enterprises.

As another major achievement of this meeting, five top Chinese cement companies joined the Cement Sustainable Initiative (CSI). It has been regarded as a milestone in China’s cement history as they are the first Chinese cement companies to join.

In September 2009, Lafarge Shui On Cement signed a strategic cooperation agreement with the Chongqing Municipal People’s Government to accelerate the city’s sustainable development. This strategic partnership covers all of Lafarge’s business operations in China, from cement to ready-mixed concrete to aggregates and plasterboard. Lafarge has already operated several successful modules in the city, including a waste heat recovery project, a sludge usage project, soil remediation via sustainable cement kiln practices, and a project centered on the use of flue gas desulfurization gypsum (a waste material produced through the desulfurization of flue gases in power stations and heating plants in high amounts that has a good potential for application in building structures).

These projects explore new solutions for the harmless treatment and use of local waste and have presented good results. For example, the sludge usage project in Chongqing could help the city treat over 30,000 metric tons of sludge per year, which not only reduces the amounts of sludge occupying land, but also precludes the need for investment in incineration, and significantly reduces coal consumption, dioxin pollution and CO2 emissions.

This article was first published in the November 2010 edition of Sustain magazine by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.