Partha Dash, MD, Moglix
The global cement industry produces an estimated 4 billion tons of material yearly, fueling infrastructure that shape our daily lives, while contributing a whopping 7% of global emissions, due to which the industry is standing at a critical juncture. The good news is that the cement industry is waking up to its responsibility and is taking bold steps towards a greener future by innovating eco-friendly cement and sustainable packaging solutions.
In the wake of this, the World Cement Association has announced its goal to reduce CO2 emissions by the cement industry by at least 25% by 2030. It has also outlined a roadmap to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. This roadmap sets out to help limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. 2020-2030 is marked as “the decade to make it happen.”
India is the second largest cement producer with an overall production capacity of nearly 545 million tons in FY 2020. The time is ripe for the cement industry to speed up its innovations to make the cement industry eco-friendly.
The need for green packaging
Traditionally, cement is packed in sewn-in woven sacks made of polypropylene tape fabric. While cement bags are recyclable, the industry needs more packaging options to reduce its carbon footprint. Hence, there is a focus on innovating new packaging that is biodegradable or lighter in weight, as even a few grams of reduced weight can make a significant difference in the overall carbon footprint.
The cement industry generates nearly 100 million tons of waste annually, a large portion coming from cement packaging materials and pallets. Also, these traditional cement packing methods are cumbersome and bulky, resulting in high transportation costs and higher emissions due to the extra fuel consumption.
Eco-friendly packaging is a critical component of sustainable living and has several benefits. It helps reduce wastage, conserves natural resources, and save money. Using eco-friendly packaging materials and methods can reduce production, transportation, and waste management costs. Reducing waste can increase efficiency and productivity.
Companies that use exco-friendly packaging create a positive brand image and customers are more likely to trust such companies for adopting sustainable practices. What’s more, eco-friendly packaging helps companies stay compliant with environmental regulations.
Reducing weight with W&H AD Protex sack
Suraj Logistix in alliance with W&H India has developed an innovative new packaging solution using the concept of W&H AD Protex LS. Compared to the standard 80-82 gram block bottom woven bags used in India, these weigh 74 grams - a 10% reduction in weight. AD Protex block bottom bags are made using hot air sealing and no glue or threads are used. The packaging has been successfully tested within Indian supply chains.
Switching to paper sacks
Paper sacks are becoming a preferred choice for cement packaging as they provide a wide range of economic and environmental benefits. Compared to sewn woven sacks, paper sacks have lower costs and expenses and higher filling speed without sacrificing protection and item waste. Additionally, the paper material is more sustainable, making them an attractive option for cement manufacturers looking for an eco-friendly solution. Paper sacks also outperform their alternatives in cement preservation, meaning that fewer cement materials are wasted or spilt between deposits. Furthermore, the carbon footprint of paper sacks is 2.5 times lower than that of sewn-woven sacks.
Completely soluble cement bags
D-Sack, developed by BillerudKorsnäs – a Swedish packaging specialist and Lafarge – the French cement giant, is a breakthrough in packaging and waste reduction. D-Sack completely disintegrates in the cement mixer and solves multiple problems upon its use:
it eliminates waste from construction sites
provides a cleaner and safer workplace
binds carbon from the atmosphere
does away with plastic materials.
D-Sack also provides better ergonomics for builders; it also reduces exposure to cement dust at job sites. To prove D-Sack’s strong climate performance, IVL (Swedish Environmental Research Institute) conducted a life cycle assessment, confirming D-Sack as “a carbon sink” with positive results seen from a long-term perspective.
What lies ahead?
While the cement industry may have broken new grounds in sustainability, there is still a long way to go. Innovations in using biodegradable materials, such as plant-based plastics, for packaging to reduce waste and the carbon footprint of packaged cement, are already being tested globally. Innovative packaging using IoT will take the load off energy-consuming equipment. Using RFID and QR codes, we can track the lifecycle of a product’s packaging. If the world is going to achieve its climate goals, the cement industry must clean up its act. So far, we’ve seen some promising advancements from individual companies – now it’s time for the entire industry to step up and meet the challenge.