As part of its sustainability efforts, Cemex continuously strives to find ways to meet the demands of a growing urban society without compromising the planet for future generations, according to the company. An alternative fuels program is a key part to its sustainable manufacturing.
Cemex has become a leading user of alternative fuels in the cement industry, the company noted in its 2014 Sustainable Development Report, replacing traditional fuels like petcoke and coal with those that have a lower carbon emission factor as well as carbon neutral alternatives, such as biomass residues. In 2014, 94 percent of Cemex’s cement plants processed alternative fuels, avoiding the use of 2.2 million tons of coal.
The Greenhouse Gas Effect Program – managed by Mexico’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, the Commission of Private Sector Studies for Sustainable Development and the Business Coordination Council – recognized Cemex Mexico for its environmental achievements last year. Under the program, Cemex Mexico received the GEI-2 award for its progress in managing GHG emissions and complying with a verified inventory. The Tepeaca and Guadalajara cement plants won the GE-3 award for lowering GHG emissions and achieving certified performance indicators of carbon emissions management.
Building upon the technological and operational success of its most advanced cement plants, Cemex is upgrading production lines at other plants to bring them up to par. A number of challenges must be considered when substituting with alternative fuels, which is why the company developed corporate guidelines in its cement operations that comply with the Cement Sustainability Initiative. Cemex has also implemented an engagement model to help community leaders understand the logistical, technical and financial variables involved in the sourcing of alternative fuels.
In 2013, Cemex started a collaboration with the Earth Engineering Center of Columbia University and The City College of New York to execute a year-long study of the life-cycle effects of alternative fuels in cement manufacturing. The study focused on waste combustion technologies and included multiple visits to the company’s cement plants in the United States and Mexico as well as analysis of operating data. Completed in 2014, the study concluded that the use of fuels derived from municipal solid wastes (MSW) in cement production has no adverse impact on the cement production process or the quality of the product. In fact, it reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to three tons of CO2 per ton of MSW-derived fuel used in place of a high-quality coal.