Carbon neutral concrete will be a reality by 2050 under a new plan which includes reducing and eliminating energy related emissions, reducing process emissions through new technologies and deployment of carbon capture, more efficient use of concrete, reuse and recycling of concrete and buildings, and harnessing concrete’s ability to absorb and store carbon from the atmosphere, the world’s concrete industry says.
In its latest announcement, the Global Cement and Concrete Association has launched its 2050 Climate Ambition on behalf of its 40 member companies.
Strategies under the plan include:
- Eliminating direct energy-related emissions and maximizing the co-processing of waste from other industries.
- Reducing and eliminating indirect energy emissions through renewable electricity sources
- Reducing process emissions through new technologies and deployment of carbon capture at scale
- Reducing the content of both clinker in cement and cement in concrete, as well as more efficient use of concrete in buildings and infrastructure
- Reprocessing concrete from construction and demolition waste to produce recycled aggregates to be used in concrete manufacturing; and
- Quantifying and enhancing the level of CO2 uptake of concrete through recarbonation and enhanced recarbonation in a circular economy, whole life context.
As part of the plan, GCCA has commenced work on development of a roadmap, which will establish short and long-term actions along with timelines and measurable milestones.
Building on existing technology roadmaps produced for the cement sector, this will adopt a circular economy approach by taking into account for example: emissions reduction in cement and concrete production, savings delivered by concrete during its lifetime, reduced demand through promoting design, material and construction efficiencies and improved standards, reuse of whole concrete structures, design for disassembly and reuse of elements, and accounting for the CO 2 savings at the end of life including concrete recycling and enhanced recarbonation.
Around the world, concrete is the most used man-made product due to its role as a structural material in buildings and infrastructure.
Advantages it delivers include durability; resistance to fire, weather and flood; good thermal performance; versatility and potential for reuse and recycling at the end of its life.
Environmentally, however, the material has a high carbon footprint due to the carbon intensive nature of the cement manufacturing.
In a statement, Dinah McLeod, GCCA Chief Executive, said the importance of improving concrete sustainability should not be underestimated.
“As we face the challenges for future generations and begin global economic recovery, concrete will be even more critical to building the sustainable world of tomorrow,” McLeod said.
“That’s why we are making this commitment today, in order that our crucial industry aligns with global targets, including the Paris Agreement.
“Concrete has a vital role to play in addressing the need for sustainable communities and prosperity. It is a key ingredient of infrastructure, homes, clean water and community resilience as our climate changes.
“Crucially, it will also help facilitate the transition to clean/green energy. We believe this journey will be challenging but are fully committed to working together with our members, partners and stakeholders across the industry and supply chain to achieve this ambition.”