Great Lakes cement, concrete producer documents decarbonization progress

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Sources: Votorantim Cimentos, Sao Paulo; CMCM staff

The parent company of Prairie Material, Canada Building Materials and St Marys cement, aggregate and concrete operations serving Great Lakes markets reports a 3 percent year over year reduction in carbon dioxide emissions per tonne of cementitious material shipped. Votorantim Cimentos logged an average of 579 kg CO2/tonne across cement and cementitious materials operations in the Americas, Africa and Europe; since 1990, it has seen that figure drop 24 percent. 

In 2022, Votorantim Cimentos realized a 1 percent reduction in another principal metric: Rate of clinker substitution, or “clinker factor,” indicating the amount of portland cement and supplementary cementitious materials in delivered concrete mixes. The producer lowered the clinker factor by one point, to 73.9 percent, toward a 2030 goal of 68 percent. Also in 2022, Votorantim Cimentos’ thermal substitution rate through co-processing—reflecting increased use of fossil fuel alternatives for cement kilns—was 26.5 percent, 4.1 points higher than the 2021 figure and closer to the 53 percent substitution rate envisioned for 2030. 

Cementitious materials are delivered to a Votorantim Cimentos North America ready mixed concrete plant in Champaign, Ill. Tight air and water pollution control measures earned the VCNA Prairie LLC/Yard 1037 operation 2020 NRMCA Commitment to Environmental Excellence honors.

“We continue to explore opportunities in the circular economy and develop new technologies. The improvement in our performance in 2022 reinforces our commitment and ongoing efforts to support the carbon neutral agenda,” says Votorantim Cimentos Global Director of Sustainability, Institutional Relations, Product Development, Engineering and Energy Álvaro Lorenz.

The company’s decarbonization strategy is based on four main pillars, he adds: Co-processing or fossil fuel substitution in clinker production; use of cementitious materials in lieu of clinker-only concrete binder; energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources, leveraging company-owned hydroelectric power plants plus solar and wind energy investments; and, development of technologies (innovative processes; new materials; carbon capture, use or storage; value chain dematerialization; plus, partnerships with various businesses and academic organizations to increasingly optimize resources and reduce carbon intensity).

In December 2022, Votorantim Cimentos attained Science Based Target initiative (SBTi) validation of a new CO2emissions target, 475 kg/tonne of cement, an 8.7 percent reduction against a prior 2030 goal of 520 kg/tonne. The producer was also recognized as one of the best evaluated companies in the 2022 Climate Change Program under CDP, an SBTi-aligned organization setting a benchmark to evaluate sustainable approaches for countering climate change.