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One of the main pillars on which CEMEX bases their strategy is sustainability and continuously searching different ways to innovate without losing commitment to its stakeholders. CEMEX is creating new purposes for materials that traditionally would have entered the landfill, providing our communities with an effective and secure way to alleviate the social, economic and environmental issues associated with municipal waste management. The Refuse-derived fuel (RDF) is a fuel produced from municipal solid waste (MSW), the alternatives fuel program -with high calorific value- is a key part of CEMEX sustainable manufacturing program. The cities need to become environmental friendly where waste for one entity delivers value for another. One key effort is the use of solid wastes to fuel our cement facilities. These wastes that contain recoverable energy are predominantly residues. In Mexico City the landfills receive 4,444,000 tons of solid waste per year, only 47% of this waste can be used as Refuse-derived fuel. Through this initiative CEMEX is co-processing 576,000 tons of solid waste (12% of the waste from MSW). As part of our sustainability efforts, CEMEX continuously strive to find ways to meet the demands of a growing urban society without compromising the planet for future generations.
Although CEMEX is working on several actions to align their objectives to the sustainability strategy (like the wind farms), CEMEX has developed an interesting way to solve one of the main elements that pollute: the fossil fuel. The use and co-processing of municipal solid waste (MSW) as an alternative fuel to the cement kilns in various cement production plants of CEMEX. This innovation not only helps to reduce the use of non-renewal fuels, also this process reduces our reliance on fossil fuels while also alleviating the burden on municipal landfills to accommodate these solid wastes. Usually, the cement production plants are located near limestone quarries where the companies install their machinery and facilities. The cement manufacturing process consists in extracting the necessary minerals from limestone quarries, which in a mechanical way are transported by bands to storage hoppers where additional minerals are dosed to be exposed to a thermal process where fossil fuels energized mills to mix and prepared a product called clinker. From there, the clinker is subjected to a grinding process where it is mixed again with other minerals and the resulting product is cement. Producing one ton of cement represents approximately 0.5 ton of CO2 and 100 kg of fossil fuel pet coke. The solid waste is used as an alternative fuel for kilns in the cement production plants. CEMEX's initiative consists of replacing the use of fossil fuels to co-processing of solid waste to energize the cement manufacturing process. The process starts in landfills or dumps, where CEMEX and the government of the municipalities involved created an alliance to install waste separation plants (organic from inorganic), which corresponds to materials such as paper, plastics, textiles, agglomerates and more. Normally, the solid waste used as an alternative fuel represents 47% of a ton of waste. The objective of these plants is to obtain FIRSU (inorganic fraction from urban solid waste). With the separated solid waste, CEMEX is ready to load and transport it to its cement plants through alliances with transport groups in the region and in some cases with its own equipment. The transportation is a problem because the quantity of the waste is huge, so CEMEX tries to make a good impact hiring people of the community and making them part of the solution. Having the solid waste in the CEMEX plant, this is arranged to be stored in a waste co-processing plant. In this part the process of fossil fuel substitution begins. The plant takes advantage of the high heat generated by the furnace to process the solid waste and obtain energy from it in a process where the heat released by the furnaces is used and the emissions caused by the use of the solid waste is contained. Recently, 17% of the fuel comes from FIRSU instead of the fossil fuel. Some of the benefits are the heath of the people, emphasizing those who live near the landfills. Also CEMEX is creating some jobs for the separation/transportation and is trying to improve the dialogues with the governments.
Mr. Lorenzo Zambrano, CEMEX´s founder and former CEO, had the vision to replace traditional fuels like fossil fuel to those that have lower carbon emission factor as well as carbon neutral alternatives such as biomass residues in the CEMEX plants. Some of the benefits are: • Find new ways to optimize cost in the CEMEX operations. • Reduce the amount of CO2 emissions of CEMEX (pollution). • Help improving the CEMEX and cement manufacturers’ image as part of a high contaminant industry.
Given the importance of the sustainability related challenges that society is facing, CEMEX has integrated sustainability into its business strategy, decision making processes, and day to day operations. CEMEX establish four objectives organized around its economic, social, environmental and governance models. The solid waste initiative has an impact in the four objectives: • Economic: cost reduction and ensuring the operations by looking for solutions on renewal or alternative fuels. • Social: CEMEX is helping to reduce the amount of garbage in cities near its plants. Less garbage helps improve the health of the people living near the landfills. • Environmental: the co-processing of solid waste reduces CO2 emissions by substitution of non-renewal fuels. Co-processing of solid waste use the high temperatures of the cement kilns to take advantage of the energetic properties of solid inorganic waste (paper, plastic, textiles) in a controlled way. • Governance: with this initiative CEMEX ensures to fulfill its objectives and values. Short term • Better living conditions of the communities impacted because of the elimination of the amount of garbage in their environment. • Need to meet the requirements of the communities and plant together with the government the ways of loading and transport of garbage. • Develop a better solid waste separation way in the landfills. • Support the benefits of the solid waste initiative to the groups of interest. • Establish training programs for CEMEX operatives and the beneficed communities. Long term • Ensure to not depend on fossils fuels for the future CEMEX operations. • Cost reduction in CEMEX operations after the return of investment. • A better and closer relationship with the Government and communities.
•Substitution of 30% of the use of fossil fuels per year in the cement plants by using alternative fuel which represents a 17% of the total amount of fossil fuels used by CEMEX Mexico per year.
•Recovery of investment in the co-processing plant.
•The ashes obtained from this process are compatible with the cement formulation and are used as raw material.
•Improve the health of people living near the landfills of 8 cities in Mexico.
•Improve the living conditions of 24 communities around the cement plants.
•Jobs creation by installing not only the co-processing plants in CEMEX facilities, but the separation plants in dumps and the solid waste transportation.
•Reduction of the amount of garbage by eliminates it by co-processing in cement plants.
•Elimination of more than 576,000 tons of solid waste per year.
•Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by up to three tons of CO₂ per ton of MSW-derived fuel used in place of a high-quality coal. Reduction of 73,700 tons of CO2 per year.
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Ing. Arturo Gaytan Covarrubias, Sustainability Manager
•Global building material company (cement, ready-mix concrete and aggregates).
•Presence in more than 50 countries.
•Annual sales of US$13.7 billion and EBITDA of US$ 2.6 billion in 2017.
•Trade relationships in more than 100 nations and one of the world’s top traders of cement and clinker.