Cement producers cut NOx, SO2 and dust

The UK’s cement sector has cut dust and acid gas releases three years ahead of target. However, the British Cement Association annual performance report reveals progress on greenhouse gas emissions stalled and permit breaches rocketed in 2007.1

Targets for the sector in 2010 were agreed with the Environment Agency in 2005 (ENDS Report 370, p 12 ).

The mass of dust emitted per tonne of cement produced in 2007 fell by 18% from the previous year and was 36% below the 2010 target. Emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) fell to 12% and 17% below target.

Energy from fossil fuels fell a more modest 6%, putting the industry on course to meet its goal of using 25% non-fossil fuel energy by 2010.

Less impressive is progress on cutting carbon dioxide emissions. Emissions from fossil fuels and limestone used in manufacturing rose by 0.9% to 819 kilogram per tonne of cement, narrowly exceeding the 800kg objective for 2010.

Emissions from fossil fuel use alone fell by 3.2%. A further 12% cut is needed to meet the 2010 target.

An ENDS survey in March revealed that CO2 emissions from British plants were markedly above the global average (ENDS Report 398, pp 34-37 ).

John Isherwood, the Agency’s technical adviser for the cement sector, said the results demonstrated "good performance" although some targets were "still challenging". He added that emissions from fossil fuels had "not reduced as much as we envisioned" because alternative fuels such as sewage sludge pellets had been difficult to obtain.

Targets for 2015 were agreed in September but have only now been made public. The number of indicators has been streamlined to a more manageable 20, down from 35. Some of the most stretching targets for 2015 are for the proportions of waste used as a fuel and raw material. These would rise by 54% and 83% respectively. The rest, such as a cut in raw materials use of 1% on 2007 levels, are more modest.

Mr Isherwood said he would have preferred targets to be set as far as 2020, but the report instead sets forth a less specific ‘vision’ with few numeric targets

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