Interview: Sustainable Cement

“Collaborating to Bring about Change for Cement Production”

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PROCESS: How is the technology roadmap of the initiative for the Indian cement industry different to the global roadmap?

FONTA: Firstly, let’s talk about what is common. The way we develop the roadmap for India is the same as we do at a global level. Developing a roadmap at a local level enables us to further assess the initiative’s progress and we can aggregate them and update the global roadmap.

Additionally, we work with the International Energy Agency (IEA) and their model to examine what the impact of energy would be in 2050 and so on. Furthermore, the roadmap is formed on the basis of technology papers. So, for the global one, research was conducted by the European Cement Research Academy (ECRA), and in India it was conducted by the National Council for Cement and Building Materials (NCB) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).


Hence, the process is exactly the same for both the global and local initiative. The only difference is the use of technology papers to identify available technologies that specifically suit the Indian context.

“The cement industry is energy-intensive and in order to make it sustainable for the future, we need to look at making improvements in the entire lifecycle of the cement industry.“Philippe Fonta
“The cement industry is energy-intensive and in order to make it sustainable for the future, we need to look at making improvements in the entire lifecycle of the cement industry.“Philippe Fonta
(Picture: CSI)

The global roadmap identifies four levers of improvement. First comes energy efficiency; second is the use of alternative fuels; third is clinker to cement ratio; and the fourth is carbon capture and storage (CCS). For these elements, we have a global view, and hence have a global roadmap.

CSI in India has a slightly more in-depth view on the development of the local roadmap. For instance, let’s look at energy efficiency. India is very efficient because the plants here

are very modern; this means that a lot has already been done in energy efficiency and the objective to achieve improvement in this scenario has a little less scope than as to, say, improving the use of alternative fuels. In terms of alternative fuels, there is huge potential for improvement.

Globally, the use of alternative fuels is 13 per cent whereas in India that number is less than 1 per cent. This is typically where the differentiation lies in the global roadmap and the one for India.

PROCESS: What are the challenges you face in educating the industry about the necessity of sustainability?

FONTA: When we speak about sustainable development, we need to remember that the measures have to be good not only for the environment but also for the business of any company. Hence, all the measures we suggest take this aspect into account.

On another note, for CSI, safety is, was and always will be the first priority.

However, it is probably one of the more complex topics to deal with, particularly when speaking about road safety. In the sector, as the drivers are very often subcontractors, they are not direct employees of a company. Hence, it is sometimes difficult to implement the recommendations we make because the drivers and the subcontractors employed also work in other sectors. And if strict rules are suddenly put into place, there is a risk that the subcontractors and drivers will prefer to work in sectors with fewer rules.

This requires a progressive series of steps to be undertaken and for that CSI has established relations with the Global Road Safety Partnership—a group of private companies, NGOs, governments under the umbrella of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent. As the partnership does not solely deal with the cement sector, a strong exchange of specificities is possible through a collaborative effort. This helps in bringing benefits to all industries in the ecosystem.