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Holcim - Footprinting & sustainability measurement

We helped Holcim, one of the world's leading suppliers of cement and aggregates, standardise its sustainability methodology across the whole of their organisation.

Challenge 

Holcim required a consistent operational approach to measuring direct and indirect emissions associated with the production of cement and ready-mix concrete, both to meet their customers' requests for more information on the environmental impact of their products and as part of a wider objective to slash its direct carbon emissions by a quarter on 1990 levels. To address this, Holcim sought the Carbon Trust's unique expertise at applying the process of product carbon footprinting to:

  • Ensure sustainability improvements across their international business can be consistently measured (and rewarded).
  • Identify new ways to cut costs and drive innovation across all business areas.
  • Communicate, to their customers, the relative enhanced environmental performance of products and ultimately help the customers choose the product with lowest carbon emissions.
Our work with the Carbon Trust goes to the core of our business model. Sustainable development is not about how we spend our money; it is integral to the way we make our money. Ultimately, we are in business to provide products and solutions to our customers. We need to ensure that the solutions we provide are superior in quality, competitive in price and have the lowest possible environmental and social footprint. The Carbon Trust has helped us get closer to our objectives.

Eva Carranza, Holcim

Actions Taken

Holcim's UK subsidiary had previously worked with the Carbon Trust and been impressed with its extensive knowledge, and experience of applying of PAS2050 - a method for assessing the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of goods and services.  In 2011, Holcim wanted further help to standardise its sustainability methodology across the whole of their organisation. The Carbon Trust provided the following support:

  • Footprinting. The footprinting process took eight months to complete, covering a range of cement products (including low carbon substitutes) and business operations across multiple sites and facilities. By identifying where the main contributions to Holcim's carbon footprint came from, the Carbon Trust was able to help Holcim minimise its emissions.
  • Methodology development.  Based on the footprinting results, the Carbon Trust developed a methodology for footprinting cement and a calculation tool to measure the CO2 emissions incurred by the creation, transportation and distribution of cement. The methodology was based on data collected in five diverse country subsidiaries - Switzerland, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, Vietnam and Spain - and agile enough to be implemented across the entire group. It was also designed to conform to best practice global standards, such as PAS 2050.
  • Application of methodology. The resulting methodology and tool for footprinting cement production was then rolled out to all of Holcim's sites. Educational sessions were run on how the tool should be applied to ensure absolute consistency throughout the organisation.  One person at each subsidiary was responsible for implementing the methodology according to company guidelines.


Impact and benefits

Financial and carbon savings

The organisation stands to save a significant amount of money in the long term by:

  • removing replication so that each local subsidiary uses one central methodology for carbon footprinting, rather than investing its own resources in ad hoc footprinting projects
  • identifying opportunities to switch to lower carbon processes that will result in lower energy spend
  • understanding how to measure and manage indirect emissions, which will support the move to alternative waste products such as slag or fly ash from coal-fired power.
In a competitive product market where the price, quality, availability of your products closely match our competitors, it is our products environmental credentials that are increasingly seen by buyers/specifiers as the next real differentiator.

Eva Carranza

Holcim

New, greener product lines

Holcim's work with the Carbon Trust also reinforced its focus on developing new, greener cement product lines by building on silo successes. Some of Holcim's subsidiaries  are currently reviewing their product portfolio seeking to increase the share of green cements and reducing significantly their carbon footprint in the process.

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