Quarry Magazine’s Myles Hume writes about HeidelbergCement’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions.
Following record sales and profit figures, global aggregates producer HeidelbergCement has moved to prioritise climate protection by committing to ambitious emission reduction targets.
The German-based multinational and owner of Hanson Australia recently published its 10th Sustainability Report for the 2018 financial year. It outlines plans for a 30 per cent reduction of specific net carbon (CO2) emissions per tonne of cement on 1990 levels by 2030, and the production of CO2-neutral concrete by 2050.
“We are the first company in the cement sector to have the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) verify that our CO2 reduction targets for 2030 conform to the requirements of the Paris Agreement,” HeidelbergCement chairman Bernd Scheifele said. “Cutting our CO2 emissions and handling natural resources considerately are priorities for all our business lines.”
He added: “By 2030, we will invest 80 per cent of our research and development budget in the development of sustainable products. With our active involvement in various research projects to investigate methods of capturing and recycling CO2, we are leaders in our industry.”
The SBTi is a partnership between the Carbon Disclosure Project, the UN Global Compact, the World Resource Institute and the Worldwide Wildlife Fund. It helps companies determine how they can boost their competitive advantage in the transition to a low carbon economy.
Economic and environmental targets
HeidelbergCement’s sustainability blueprint coincides with recent unprecedented sales of cement, concrete, sand and gravel in its 145-year history.
The company reported record figures for sales volumes, revenue, and profit for the 2018 financial year, generating €18 billion ($AUD29 b) in revenue, a 4.7 per cent increase on the previous year, and a group share profit of €1.1 billion ($AUD1.7 b), an increase of 24.6 per cent.
The global conglomerate acquired Hanson Australia in 2007. Hanson Australia currently operates 228 concrete plants, 73 quarries, four asphalt plants, five recycling plants and a landfill site.
Heidelberg Cement’s equity in Hanson Construction Materials was €90.5 million ($AUD147.5 million) in the 2017 financial year. Last year, Hanson also expanded its own footprint through the acquisition of recycled aggregates producer Alex Fraser Group in a €135 m ($AUD208 m) deal.
“Having become one of the world’s largest building materials manufacturers, we know that sustainable economic success is only possible when it goes hand-in-hand with responsible business management designed to secure the future viability of the company,” Scheifele said.
In addition to climate protection and emissions reduction, the sustainability report also provided detailed information on human rights and compliance, and occupational health and safety for its 58,000 employees across 3000 locations in 60 countries.
Intensive health and safety training and education was conducted in 2018, contributing to a 12 per cent decrease in the accident frequency rate across the group.
The report also documents the company’s corporate social responsibility activities and engagement with stakeholders to address supply chain and supplier management, research and development, biodiversity, responsible land use and water protection.
“We are committed to respecting human rights. On this basis, we commenced a group-wide human rights risk analysis at the end of 2017,” Scheifele said. ”In addition to the working conditions of our employees, it also covers responsibility for the people living near our sites and the selection of suppliers and customers.”