Cementing a cleaner future

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Illustrative photo: Astrid Westvang/Flickr

Can cement companies do other things than producing cement? Yes, in two ways. Firstly, the cement kilns can burn municipal and hazardous waste. Secondly, cement plant can use the energy derived from the burning of waste. This process in the cement plant reduces the use of coal, emitting less greenhouse gases. This is co-processing. Norway practices co-processing in the cement industry and the Norwegian government are supporting waste utilization and co-processing initiatives in India through joint projects.

The generation of waste is an inevitable side-effect of most economic activities. At the same time, we are now seeing that waste is considered as a resource in energy-intensive industries such as cement manufacturing. Cement kilns have thus become a sustainable waste management solution for industrial, municipal and hazardous waste disposal. In Norway, the cement manufacturer replaces approximately 70% of its coal need with wastes. Norway does not have dedicated incinerators for disposal of hazardous wastes; most of the hazardous wastes have been disposed in the cement kilns for the last thirty years.

India is the second largest cement producer in the world after China, accounting for 7% of world production. Since 2010, Norway and India has collaborated to share technology through a joint project between Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Norwegian research institution Foundation for Scientific & Industrial Research (SINTEF). The project has raised awareness, built capacity, shared knowledge and has disseminated information to industries and authorities.

In Phase II of the collaboration between SINTEF and CPCB, which is supported by the Embassy, SINTEF will work with several Indian project partners for broadening the scope and scale of the project. The project will focus on providing technical assistance; exploring potential of utilisation of dried sewage and construction and demolition wastes; and strengthening the capacity of Central and State Pollution Control Boards on opportunities and limitations of using cement kilns for co-processing of problematic wastes.

The Cement Manufacturers Association of India is a project partner in phase-II of the collaboration. It organized a conference titled, “Third International Conference on Alternate Fuels and Raw Materials in the Cement Industry” in New Delhi recently. Ms. Hanne Meldgaard, Deputy Chief of Mission, delivered a special address in the conference. She remarked, “recovery of wastes and replacement of coal in the cement industry will improve the overall waste treatment capacity in India. It will be an important contribution to PM Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’, or Clean India, a national flagship campaign to be finished before the 150th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi. Through this, India will also contribute to safeguard a clean world to both our own and future generations”.