The Environmental Impact of the Cement Industry

Michelle Heath

The Concrete Industry Series:

The Environmental Impact of the Cement Industry | The Concrete Industry

The Environmental Impact of the Cement Industry

The basis of the cement industry is the production of clinker. Clinker is the main constituent of cement and is the largest of non-combustion sources of CO2 from industrial manufacturing accounting for~4% of total global CO2 emissions in 2015.

Emissions of the Cement Industry

If the cement industry were a country, it would be the third largest CO2 emitter globally.

The fuel combustion emissions of CO2 related to cement production are also about 4% of global CO2 emissions, thus cement production accounts for approximately 8% of global CO2 emissions.

Sand and gravels (aggregates) are foundational materials essential to economic growth but extraction rates are exceeding natural sand replenishment rates and in many regions of the world there is little to no associated regulation. 

Production volumes

An estimated 40-50 billion metric tons of crushed rock, sand and gravel are extracted from quarries, pits, rivers, coastlines, and the marine environment each year, over half of which is consumed by the construction industry

Concrete production required 9% of global industrial water withdrawals or ~1.7% of total global water withdrawal.

By 2050, it’s estimated that 75% of the water demand for concrete production would likely be in regions of the world already experiencing water scarcity.

An average dry-process cement plant uses 100 to 200 litres of water per tonne of clinker produced.