Waste-to-energy in cement industry shows potential


Brussels 15 May 2017 – Increasing the rate of co-processing waste in the EU28 cement industry to 60% will avoid 26 million tonnes of CO2 - emissions and can reduce the costs for about €12 billion of investments in dedicated waste-to-energy incineration plants. The implementation should be supported at national level mostly, as the barriers to realize this potential differ per member state. There is no one size fits all policy.

These are findings from a new study by Ecofys, a Navigant company. Commissioned by CEMBUREAU, the study is an extension of an earlier report published in 2016. Having originally focused on three European countries, the analysis has been extended to cover fourteen in total. Ecofys interviewed experts from all countries and analysed national and international data sources.

In the production of cement, the cement industry uses millions of tonnes of waste as an alternative fuel and alternative raw material. This processing of waste while producing cement is commonly referred to as co-processing. Currently, there are considerable differences in co-processing rate across the Member States, with the cement industry in some countries achieving a co-processing rate of only 7%, compared to 65% in others. The EU average is currently 41%. Ecofys have identified four main drivers which encourage co-processing in the sector:

• Waste management policy, whereby Member States incentivise more advanced treatment methods
• Low levels of bureaucracy, facilitating the permitting for both using waste and importing pre-processed waste
• A modernised cement industry
• Price and price volatility of conventional fossil fuels

In terms of the barriers at national level which can hinder co-processing in the cement industry, these have been identified as:

• an insufficient availability of high quality waste
• excessive bureaucracy
• low public acceptance
• an under-developed waste processing industry
• high competition for available waste
• low landfill taxes.

As a result of this analysis, Ecofys concludes that whilst it is technically and economically feasible for the cement industry to co-process more waste, further development is constrained by local factors. The cement industry now plans to approach authorities at national level in order to discuss the results of this analysis and to identify ways of making the most of the potential on offer.

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About CEMBUREAU: The European Cement Association based in Brussels is the representative organisation of the cement industry in Europe. Currently, its Full Members are the national cement industry associations and cement companies of the European Union (except for Malta and Slovakia) plus Norway, Switzerland and Turkey. Croatia and Serbia are Associate Members of CEMBUREAU. A cooperation agreement has been concluded with Vassiliko Cement in Cyprus.


Jessica JOHNSON,
Communications Director
Tel: + 32 2 234 10 45