Circular economy

Circular economy benefits business, society and the environment while simultaneously eliminating waste and decoupling that development from consumption of finite resources. The building and construction sector consumes roughly 40 billion tonnes of the raw materials that are extracted from the planet every year. Against the backdrop of rising population growth and urbanization the OECD expects this volume to double by 2060, representing a great challenge for society.

Addressing the waste problem

At LafargeHolcim our vision to enable a circular built economy starts with preservation of natural resources by substituting fossil fuels and raw materials with waste or by-products. Rethinking our production processes has given us the opportunity to contribute to solving society’s waste problem through waste reuse and recycling.

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LafargeHolcim is the second biggest waste reuser globally

In 2020 we reused 46 million tons of waste. The decline from 2019 (48m tons) is due to the pandemic and lower total production. On the other hand, we increased by 4% our recycling ratio, which measures waste used per ton of product sold. We transformed 5 million tonnes of waste into alternative fuels, recycling its minerals and recovering its energy. Co-processing alternative fuels is 11% of all the waste we recycled and it includes almost 2 million tonnes of plastic waste.

Resource preservation and efficiency along the value chain

In order to meet the needs for housing and infrastructure we aim to increase the efficiency of the resources we use: improved use of primary raw materials and energy. This includes upstream activities (e.g. the use of non-recyclable waste in industrial processes) as well as downstream services (e.g. the recycling of construction & demolition waste and the integration of recycled materials in our products).

100 times more waste recovered than waste generated

We reuse, recover and/or recycle waste materials in our own production processes where feasible, minimize the generation of any hazardous and other waste, and dispose of waste using safe and responsible methods. All our plants must have an internal waste management plan defined based on the waste hierarchy: We actively seek to prevent, reduce, recycle, co-process and only at a last stage landfill the waste we produce in our operations. With 100 times more waste from externals reused than internally generated and disposed of externally (46Mt vs. 0.4 Mt), we further help society to become waste neutral.

Solutions accelerating efficient use of resources

With Susteno, LafargeHolcim embraces a circular business model with leading operations in demolition waste upcycling. It is the first cement that fulfills all aspects required for a closed material cycle, reducing the amount of demolition waste in landfills and using fewer natural resources. Susteno is the world’s most circular cement with 20% recycled material from demolished buildings. Our aggneo offer includes a range of high quality aggregates processed from 100% recycled concrete as well as services and solutions to help you meet the challenges of construction and demolition within a circular economy.

We have rolled out ECOPact globally, where regulatory conditions allow, ECOPact products integrate upcycled construction and demolition materials, further closing the resource loop. Furthermore, we have introduced EcoLabel Products, our range of high performance products with additional customer benefits in terms of low CO2 and high recycled content. In addition, our digital solutions improve circularity at the project concept phase. An example is ORIS, which is the first digital materials platform for sustainable road construction providing circular, low-carbon, resource - and competitive solutions.

Partnerships and progress in waste management

The rise in ocean plastics is a global environmental policy challenge. Without significant action, plastic marine litter could outweigh all the fish in the ocean by 2050. Geocycle, our sustainable waste management solutions business, has taken a lead in addressing this challenge by partnering with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on a project to stem marine litter. Initiated in key urban areas in Egypt, Mexico, Morocco and the Philippines, the project reduces waste generation, improves waste management and raises public awareness.Geocycle México, has launched the OLAS clean ocean initiative to play a lead role in fighting marine pollution. Geocycle and other key stakeholders have developed a focused communication plan for building awareness about this issue and are meeting with government representatives at federal, regional and municipal levels to increase awareness and gain support.

Geocycle has also partnered with GIZ and the Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz (FHNW) to update the 2006 Guidelines on Co-processing Waste Materials in Cement Production to support further development of environmentally safe pre- and coprocessing. Geocycle also works with the Alliance to End Plastic Waste. More than forty chemical companies, packagers, consumer goods manufacturers, and waste managers have pledged to invest up to USD1.5 billion for a plastic waste management infrastructure in Southeast Asia, where the plastic litter and leakage problem is most acute.

The LafargeHolcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction selects and supports initiatives that combine sustainable construction solutions with architectural excellence and enhanced quality of life beyond technical solutions.The LafargeHolcim Awards competition recognizes innovative projects and future-oriented concepts – and is the most significant global competition for sustainable design. The LafargeHolcim Forum together with its associated universities advances the academic discussion of sustainable construction, every three years around 300 experts from around the world meet to discuss challenges of today’s urbanization processes and built environment.