Concrete Industry on Track to Meet Emissions Reduction Target
Wednesday, 11 March 2020
The New Zealand concrete industry is halfway towards meeting its target of a 30 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030.
Wood waste (biomass) at Golden Bay Cement's Portland works is used as a partial replacement for coal as kiln fuel.
Concrete New Zealand (NZ) Chief Executive Rob Gaimster says the industry is fully committed to becoming net carbon neutral by the Government’s target date of 2050.
A review last month by an independent auditor, Australian sustainability consultancy Thinkstep, found the New Zealand concrete industry is well placed to meet climate change commitments the New Zealand government signed up to under the Paris Agreement.
“The independent review confirmed that the New Zealand concrete industry has reduced its emissions from cement by 15 percent between 2005 and 2018.
“The emissions reduction occurred against a 13 percent increase in demand, which demonstrates how committed we are to sustainability,” Rob Gaimster says.
Shredded vehicle tyres are also used at Golden Bay Cement's Portland works as a partial replacement for coal as kiln fuel.
“We are pleased that our initiatives to reduce cement’s carbon footprint have avoided about 400,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in 2018 alone.”
The reduction in emissions has been achieved through a range of measures, including the use of waste products such as wood biomass and vehicles tyres to fuel cement kilns.
Concrete NZ’s Sustainability Committee has recently met Climate Change Minister Hon James Shaw to share the ThinkStep results and discuss how concrete is part of the transition to a net zero carbon New Zealand by 2050.
“A game-changer for the industry here in New Zealand is that we have available naturally occurring minerals that can be used to replace a percentage of cement clinker, which is the main ingredient of concrete production associated with carbon dioxide emissions.
Concrete is critical to wastewater management as demonstrated by the recent BNR upgrade of Mangere Wastewater Treatment Plant.
“Waste from other industries can also be used to lower the cement clinker content in concrete and help to significantly reduce concrete’s carbon footprint.
“At the same time, moving to new technologies, such as more energy efficient equipment and vehicles to produce and transport concrete, is part of our plan to be net carbon neutral by 2050.”
Rob Gaimster says concrete is the second most consumed substance in the world after water and is central to supporting communities and economies around the world.
“Our kids walk to school on concrete footpaths, they learn in schools that rest on concrete foundations, we receive healthcare in hospitals built from concrete, and many of us work in concrete buildings.
The upgrade and extension of 133 Molesworth Street in Wellington showcases many of concrete's sustainable attributes.
“Concrete also underpins our water and sewerage systems and will be crucial in the development of low energy infrastructure that includes electricity generation and public transport.”
“As we adapt to climate change and our planet warms, concrete will offer protection against fire and floods, while its mass will help regulate the internal temperature of buildings to reduce our reliance on energy intensive air conditioning.”
Rob Gaimster also points out that the environmental benefits of concrete are significant.
“Concrete structures actually act as carbon sinks, they can also be recycled, redesigned and repurposed. Concrete structures require little maintenance, and don’t rot or burn.
“Our industry knows how important concrete is to everyone’s future wellbeing. That’s why we’re working so hard to reduce our carbon footprint and maximise the benefits of concrete,” he says.
Rob Gaimster, Chief Executive
021 928 651
Concrete NZ represents a membership of more than 700 corporates and individuals who collectively account for a significant proportion of the building and construction sector in New Zealand.
The New Zealand cement and concrete industry employs 11,000 people and generated $1.8 billion in GDP in 2017. Its asset base of close to $3 billion includes 190 concrete plants, and 22 cement manufacturing / distribution facilities.
It annually supplies and uses about 1.5 million tonnes of cement in New Zealand, which equates to around 4 million cubic metres of concrete for new residential, commercial and infrastructure construction.
Concrete is essential to renewable electricity generation, public transport infrastructure and the thermal performance of buildings. It is infinitely recyclable and easily repurposed, as well as offering fire and flood resistance and acoustic separation.
Portland cement clinker is a dark grey nodular material made by heating limestone and clay at a temperature of about 1400 °C. The nodules are ground to a fine powder to produce cement, with a small amount of gypsum added to control setting.