It may stretch the imagination to see how a skin deodorant manufacturer, a waste treatment organization and a cement plant could collaborate to create a solution that is a ‘win’ for all parties - and the environment.
But it’s a reality, as the world’s leading companies focus expertise and innovation on reducing the use of natural resource through reusing material, recycling and eliminating waste going to landfill or incineration. The concept is called the ‘circular economy’ – put simply, reusing and recycling resources to contribute to productive, profitable and sustainable business success.
The circular economy is one focus area of the 2030 Plan, the Group's sustainability strategy. Our ambition is to create more value from waste by transforming it into resources for all our production processes and providing sustainable waste treatment solutions.
So what does this mean in practice? Here's an example of how we brought our 2030 Plan goals to life in Indonesia, in collaboration with the leading consumer brand company, Unilever.
LafargeHolcim and Unilever collaborate for better resource management
To help better dispose of the 300 tonnes of waste per month produced by a deodorant plant in Cikarang, Indonesia, we started collaborating with the owner of the plant, Unilever, to use that waste to power our cement plant instead. Our waste management experts at Geocycle worked together with Unilever on the solution.
Partnering with another third party, Geocycle offered Unilever a complete waste management solution. The initial high moisture of the sludge meant its calorific value was too low to be used as an alternative fuel due to permit limitations. To address this hurdle, Geocycle provided advice and conducted tests to reduce the sludge moisture by 20%, thereby reducing transportation cost and enabling the material to be mixed with other waste sources, before it is co-processed at the cement plant.
Acheiving a zero waste target
The Geocycle partnership helped Unilever reach its global zero waste target, which was achieved in February 2016 and announced in a press release. “Unilever today reached a new industry-leading achievement of sending zero non-hazardous waste to landfill across more than 600 sites, in 70 countries, including factories, warehouses, distribution centres and offices.”
Unilever’s Manufacturing Sustainability Director, Tony Dunnage, who led his company’s zero waste programme said of the ongoing work with Geocycle: “Our programme required innovative ways of thinking and working and we found a willing and able partner in Geocycle. This single Indonesia project is ongoing and we are identifying other opportunities to collaborate.”
Win, win, win...win
Geocycle’s head of commercial, Bruno Fux, said: “This was an innovative ‘win, win, win, win’ situation. Unilever needed a way of dealing with the waste and Geocycle was looking to offer waste management services. The cement plant also gained a stream of non-fossil fuel and the environment wins through reduced waste to landfill,” added Bruno.
“Thanks to Tony’s initiative, we took a more systematic and structured approach to identifying new opportunities. Sharing success stories as they happened had a positive ‘domino effect’ on both organisations and we could speed up the achievement of the zero waste to landfill goal significantly,” he added.
Further collaboration between the companies is continuing with projects in Vietnam, Sri Lanka, India and Costa Rica.