Alternative Raw Materials and Fuels

The conservation of natural resources is part of our sustainable business strategy. That is why we make greater use of waste materials and by-products from other industries as valuable raw materials and fuels.

We use alternative raw materials for the production of clinker, which is the most important intermediate product in the manufacture of cement. In this way we reduce the amount of CO2 intensive clinker in the final product. The increased use of alternative raw materials in cement production is thus a core element of our climate strategy.

Alternative fuels

We use these resources as alternatives to finite natural raw materials and fossil fuels in the production of cement. In this way, we are helping to conserve resources and solve the problems associated with waste disposal faced by municipalities and industrial companies near our plants. At the same time, these efforts are also reducing our CO2 emissions, because the biomass that accounts for around 39 % of the alternative fuel mix is classified as climate neutral.

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Alternative fuels replace natural resources

Alternative fuels replace natural resources

Alternative fuels replace natural resources

The Alternative Fuel Master Plan project was launched in mid-2018. It aims to increase the proportion of alternative fuels across the Group, helping us to meet our commitment to reduce CO2 emissions by 2030. 

Alternative fuels are predominantly waste that cannot be recycled in full and would therefore be uneconomical to recycle. In this scenario, co-processing in clinker kilns is regarded as a worthwhile option, as it not only uses the waste’s calorific value much more efficiently compared with waste incineration plants but also embeds its mineral components into the clinker. The waste is co-processed without any residue while complying with the same strict emission standards as waste incineration plants. 

In 2020, the proportion of alternative fuels in the fuel mix was 25.7%. As part of our Sustainability Commitments 2030, we have redefined our targets for the use of alternative fuels for the Group: By 2030, the share of alternative fuels in the fuel mix will be increased to 43%.

Alternative raw materials for improving the carbon footprint

One of the most important ways of reducing CO2 emissions in cement manufacturing is the use of alternative raw materials that are produced as waste in other industries. A very large share of these alternative raw materials comes from the metalworking industry. Moreover, coal-fired power plants supply ash as well as synthetic gypsum. By using these materials, and thus avoiding waste, we actively promote the circular economy. 

At Group level, the proportion of alternative raw materials in cement production was 11.4% in 2020; the clinker proportion in cement was 74.3%.

Further information about the use of alternative resources at HeidelbergCement can be found in our Sustainability Report.