This example is about substituting natural resources by using alternative resources for the production of cements in Austria.
Alternative fuels provide the thermal energy needed for the burning process. Especially the utilisation of non-recyclable plastics in the cement industry provides a safe measure against the pollution of the oceans. Many of the alternative fuels contain biogenic fractions of carbon which help to reduce fossil greenhouse gas emissions and protect the global climate. They also provide important elements that are needed as a raw material for the production of cement clinker. The high temperatures needed for the production of cement clinker provide a clean and save way for the destruction of harmful substances in the cement production process. This makes the cement industry an important partner in the waste regime.
It furthermore contributes to the security of energy supply by decreasing the dependence of the European Union on energy imports.
- In the year 2018, the Austrian cement industry managed to replace more than 14% of the raw materials and more than 81% of the fuels that are needed for the production of the cement clinker (the main component of cement). In this way, the use of natural lime stone has been significantly reduced and fossil fuels like coal and oil have been avoided.
- The substitution of conventional fuels by alternative fuels is an important measure on the pathway towards the carbon neutrality of 2050: by increasing the use alternative fuels the CO2 emission factor of the fuel mix in the Austrian cement industry has been reduced by 23% from 85 to 65 kg CO2/GJ over the last 21 years.
- Summing up, more than 2.4 million tons of alternative resources have been utilized in the Austrian cement industry in 2018. As a result, 462 kilograms of alternative resources have been reused on average for the production of 1,000 kilograms of cement in Austria.
The main challenges for the utilization of alternative resources in Austrian cement kilns have been identified as follows:
- Raising the public acceptance.
- Obtaining the necessary permits.
- Financing the huge investments needed.
Over the years, a very well working waste management regime has been established in Austria which reliably guarantees the collection and sorting of waste and provides the suitable fractions for the cement industries.
Cement plants, recycling plants and the authorities in Austria