Cement Companies Make Concrete Commitment to Sustainability

Cement Companies Make Concrete Commitment to Sustainability

Ten major cement companies have published an agenda for action on sustainable development, which aims to accelerate sustainable practices in the cement industry.

Produced by the Cement Sustainability Initiative in association with the Geneva-based World Business Council for Sustainable Development, 'Our Agenda for Action' is the next step of a project spearheaded by 10 of the world's largest cement producers: Cemex (Mexico), Cimpor (Portugal), HeidelbergCement (Germany), Holcim (Switzerland), Italcementi (Italy), Lafarge (France), RMC (United Kingdom), Siam Cement (Thailand), Taiheiyo (Japan) and Votorantim (Brazil). Together, these companies produce about one third of global cement supply and operate in two thirds of the world's cement markets.

The agenda follows a three-year program of research and stakeholder consultation, in which the Cement Sustainability Initiative identified six priority issues for the industry: climate protection, greening of fuel and raw-material consumption, advancement of employee health and safety, emissions reduction, local impacts reduction, and transformation of internal business processes to align with sustainable development.

"This is a unique program,” said Bjorn Stigson, president of the World Business Council on Sustainable Development. “It is the first time an industry, using extensive research and stakeholder consultation, has critically examined its own performance on sustainable development, and then set out a specific plan to improve it."

The agenda sets out the first of several five-year programs by the 10 companies, and will report on progress in 2005 and 2007.

Key projects are:

  • All ten companies will publish individual performance data and targets for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2006. To this end, they will apply their recently developed CO2 Protocol to measure, monitor and report on their emissions.

  • Stakeholder dialogues will be held to develop guidelines for the use of fuels and raw materials in cement kilns, particularly industrial by-products and waste. All ten companies will apply the guidelines across their operations once agreed and validated.

  • A Health and Safety Task Force, which has already been set up, will frame common reporting practices and share best practice.

  • A protocol for measurement, monitoring and public reporting of emissions will be developed.

  • Common guidelines for Environmental and Social Impact Assessment will be designed in consultation with key stakeholders

  • Key performance indicators on sustainable development will be established for the cement industry.
"The Agenda for Action is unique in that it outlines individual actions and joint commitments being taken by the ten companies in response to independent research,” said Mostafa Tolba, former executive director of the United Nations Environment Program who chaired the assurance process for the research phase of the project. "I hope other cement companies will join these ten in implementing the actions it sets out."