Heracles Group is Greece's largest cement producer and has been serving the market for more than 100 years. The Group is operating in the industry of cement production and marketing, aggregates and concrete in Greece and in more than 20 countries.
We are contributing to fighting climate change and the reduction of emissions related to cement production in many ways. Carbon dioxide is mostly (60%) emitted from the thermal processing of the calcareous raw materials during clinker production (first stage of cement production) and from the fossil fuels burnt (40%) at this process. Hence, we can reduce emissions per unit of production by optimizing this process through substituting for fossil fuels with alternatives (e.g. biomass, recycling residue) and by substituting clinker with lower-CO2 materials (natural or by-products) in the final product (cement).
Social stakeholders, local communities and general public
As part of our strategy for climate change, the substitution of fossil fuels with alternative fuels is of critical importance, as it can decrease the company’s environmental footprint, while increasing its plants’ competitiveness. At the same time, it reduces the consumption of non-renewable resources and use materials that otherwise would have ended up in the landfills. The use of alternative fuels is a key sustainability strategy for us and the cement sector in general. It is a fully regulated process from the European and the national environmental legislation, being among the Best Available Techniques suggested for the cement industry. As part of the Sustainability Ambitions 2020 (the company’s action plan for sustainable development), our target is to use 40% of alternative fuels, including biomass, in our cement plants until 2020. In 2013, we initiated co-processing of solid shredded waste (SSW) in Milaki plant as we concluded with the licensing procedures after delays of several years. This comes from recycling plants (blue bins and industrial/commercial) and specifically from the recycling residue (mostly paper and wood) that otherwise would be land-filled. To date, the substitution achieved was low –much lower compared to the current European practice– but the company aims to increase. The use of biomass (mainly residues from cotton and corn) for the substitution of fossil fuels also contributes to the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. The installation at Volos plant began its operation in May 2008.
1. Environment: The use of alternative fuels, which are considered carbon neutral, is an optimal implementation of a sustainable practice for the cement industry, as it contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of the industry and the country. At the same time, it reduces the consumption of non-renewable resources and utilizes materials that otherwise would have ended up in the landfills or would have been incinerated, resulting to subsequent emissions and final residues (ash). The cement production process is such, ensuring conditions of optimum combustion (high temperatures, high oxygen content etc) in the rotary kilns of the plants. Moreover, no waste of solid form is produced, since all burning derivatives (ash) and metallic elements are bound in the final product, clinker.
2. Complementary to recycling: The use of alternatives fuels by the cement industry for energy recovery is a safe and established option for local communities in regards to the reduction of material quantities that end up to landfills and thus, the application of the European legislation demanding the increase of waste volumes that are diverted from landfills and are utilized through recycling or energy recovery. As verified by the European experience, the use of alternative fuels is complementary (not contrasting) to recycling, thus contributing to comprehensive waste management solutions.
3. Benefits for local communities: The utilization of biomass in the Volos plant (besides the strategic advantages and benefits) also increases the economic prosperity of the region, by increasing rural areas income and creating new jobs. In 2014, Heracles proceeded with the establishment of BIOMAS, a subsidiary operating in the collection and transfer of biomass from agricultural residues. With the service provided to producers, the company contains the needs and the required resources for preparing the ground for the next cultivation period, improving their environmental footprint.
Heracles Volos and Milaki plants.
Working with Organization
Hellenic Cement Industry Association Greek Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change – Voluntary Agreement.
A key stakeholder for the application of this sustainable practice.
Benefits for Οrganization
1. Environment: The use of alternative fuels, which are considered carbon neutral, is an optimal implementation of a sustainable practice for the cement industry, as it contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of the industry and the country. In 2013, Heracles has utilized 27,103 tn of alternative fuels in its Volos and Milaki plants, substituting this way 14,700 tn of fossil fuels and preventing the emission of 21,139 tn of CO2. In 2014, it is estimated that the substitution rate of conventional with alternative fuels will be about 14% compared to 4.85% in 2013 (estimating the approximate avoidance of 40,000 tn of CO2 emissions).
2. Competitiveness: The use of alternative fuels contributes to the reduction of energy cost, which is about 30% of the total production cost. It enhances the competitiveness of cement plants against other countries production units that already utilize alternative fuels or are not subject to carbon dioxide emissions limits.