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Industrial ecology
Industrial Ecology



The cement industry is a contributor to COemissions.  In the process of cement manufacturing, COemissions come from the decarbonation of raw materials and the combustion of fossil fuels. 


As a Group, Lafarge has taken proactive approach in being committed to reconcile industrial imperatives with the preservation of ecosystems.

Becoming More Sustainable is a Commitment in All of Our Operations



    Cement manufacturing consumes large quantities of non-renewable raw materials such as minerals and fossil fuels. It is also a main source of CO2 emissions. 


    In response to this environmental challenge, Lafarge has been committed to the path of industrial ecology since the mid-70s. This approach is inspired by the cycles of creation, destruction and recycling that occur in nature.


    By rethinking industrial processes from start to end, one industry's waste products can become another industry's resources.

Al-wehdeh Dam

CO2 and cement

Why does manufacturing cement produce CO2?


Cement manufacturing is the source of 5% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The cement industry is a natural producer of CO2:

  • 60% of emissions are due to the transformation of raw materials at high temperatures (decarbonation of limestone),

  • 40% result from the combustion needed to heat the cement kilns to 1500°C.


Why Find Uses for Waste?


The Group is aware of the impact its activities have on the environment. As a result, Lafarge started thinking at a very early stage about ways of adopting environmentally friendly industrial practices. 

Lafarge adds value to waste by using it as alternative fuel or materials, thus making it possible to:

  • Limit greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the use of non-renewable natural raw materials and fossil fuels such as oil and coal.
  • Diversify energy resources and reduce energy costs by limiting dependence on the market for traditional fuels.
  • Serve the community by recycling waste that would otherwise have to be processed and eliminated.


Industrial ecology practices are, therefore, beneficial for the community, the environment and Lafarge.

Waste-Derived Fuels


Waste products can be a very appealing alternative to fossil fuels. In general, alternative fuels are derived from waste or by-products from agriculture (biomass), industries and urban areas. All of these products can be recycled as waste-derived fuels and burned safely in cement kilns. This approach relieves the community of the need to process this waste as well as helps to limit CO2 emissions and preserve non-renewable fossil fuels.


The extremely high temperatures found in cement kilns mean that the waste is totally eliminated and does not leave any residue. At present, alternative fuels account for 10.7% of the Group's fuel use across all businesses.

Waste-Derived Materials

The cement manufacturing process generates CO2 because the limestone needs to be heated to very high temperatures. This chemical process of "decarbonisation" produces clinker, which is then ground down. It is possible to reduce the amount of clinker in cement by using alternatives called cement additives. 


Reducing the amount of clinker in cement offers two advantages: reduction in both the consumption of natural, non-renewable raw materials and the emissions of greenhouse gases. Cement produced with 30% additives uses 230kg or 27% less CO2 than conventional cement produced without additives.


Cement additives may either be of natural origin like limestone and pozzolane or industrial origin like waste products from other industries, such as pulverized fuel ash from coal fired plants or slag from steel-industry blast furnaces. These waste products have hydraulic binding properties and may substitute clinker under certain conditions. In Jordan for example, Natural Pozzolana is added to the clinker to produce Pozzolanic Portland cement with different addition ratios, namely: 20% & 35% for each type.

Lafarge Expertise Results in Safe Waste Solutions


The use of waste products cannot be improvised. Lafarge has implemented stringent quality control standards as well as a training policy for its engineers, technicians and foremen. In this way, it is reinforcing the use of alternative fuels and materials, while controlling industrial processes. The Group's R&D teams are also making an active contribution in this respect. 


Heracles in Greece considers the use of alternatives and the pursuit of industrial ecology to be separate but complementary parts of its core business. The company has developed a highly professional resource recovery business to source potential materials that can meet the stringent quality parameters required for use in cement-making.

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