Without cement, there is no concrete, and without concrete, there can be no construction. No wonder then, that cement has become synonymous with concrete and construction, and has come to represent nation building. It is there quite befitting the key role that cement industry plays in the economy of our nation, that Indian Cement Review collaborated with a reputed Delhi-based management consulting firm called Kanvic Consulting, to bring out a well-researched report on the way forward for the industry in the longer term horizon. The report was released in Hyderabad on December 20, in a suitably grand event - the Bi-Annual ICR Cement Expo and Seminar. Very aptly titled "Building a New India - How the Cement Industry can envision its future to 2030", the report recommends that we must "Build More, Build Well and Build Right". The inherent message for the cement industry is not just growth (build more), neither only profitable growth (build well), but build right, meaning responsible growth.
The report goes on to make a few points in summary :
While there can be no doubt that The Indian cement industry is the key to building a new India, and that it is not possible to build the infrastructure of the nation that will drive our economic growth, without cement, Vision 2030 for Indian cement industry cannot be realized without ensuring the environmental sustainability of the industry's growth. Building right is not only good for the planet but it also makes sound business sense. The report recommends some of the usual pathways for building on the good work the industry has already done in sustainability, such as usage of alternate fuels and raw materials, investing in waste heat recovery wherever feasible, and increasing clinker substitution rates, the report makes some interesting suggestions around exploring carbon capture and storage, promoting concrete recycling, and most importantly, engaging more effectively with the civil society.
To quote voluminously from the report, the cement industry contributes around 8 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions making it the second largest industrial contributor. It is also the third largest industrial energy consumer, consuming 7 per cent of global industrial energy use. Therefore the industry is of particular importance to achieving India's commitments to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change which comes into effect in 2020. The Indian cement industry is well placed to take on this challenge as it currently leads the world in energy efficiency. The average thermal energy consumption per ton of clinker in India is almost 15 per cent below the global average - ahead of both Europe and the US. It is also a pioneer in substituting CO2 intensive clinker with more sustainable alternatives like fly-ash. As a result, the average clinker-to-cement ratio in India has fallen from around 0.85 in 1990 to 0.71 in 2017-18 versus a global average of around 0.7520. As India strives to meet its obligations to reduce CO2 emissions and deliver environmentally sustainable growth the Indian cement industry can be a benchmark for other domestic industries and cement industry globally. By further playing a role in addressing local issues of air quality and waste management, the Indian cement industry can be a catalyst for greater sustainability across the construction sector.
With this background, the ICR Awards jury acted in a very timely manner, to introduce for the first time in this edition of the Cement Awards, a special award for Cement Sustainability, which was given to honour top sustainable performance by cement companies in India.