Image by Ales Krivec

Industry Issues

Several issues are affecting our industry and our ability to maintain our company goals of sustainability, key issues that have become industry initiatives. Through these industry initiatives, we believe we can mitigate many of the obstacles that our industry faces in moving towards a more sustainable future:

  • Our commitment to net-zero carbon emissions by 2030 pushes us toward an industry with more sustainable solutions

  • Recognizing how we affect our water resources and becoming more efficient in implementing our applications when it is an ingredient

  • Protecting the water resources that we do use in the industry and safeguarding the clean access to it

  • Constantly striving for innovative methods that will create a more efficient supply chain that will result in zero waste

  • Using the diversification of Supplementary Cementitious Materials (SCMs) to create all-encompassing solutions for industry issue initiatives and propel our industry into the future of tomorrow: sustainability.

Image by Marek Piwnicki

Net Zero Carbon Emissions By 2030

What Being Net-Zero in Carbon Emissions Looks Like

A goal of our industry right now is striving for net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.  This means cutting greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible, with any remaining emissions being re-absorbed from the atmosphere, by oceans, and forests.  

A Commitment to Transition

The transition to net-zero carbon emissions by 2030 is no small task, but it is not an impossible one. It’s going to take a huge commitment by R-E-D and our industry counterparts to accomplish this goal. The industry that we operate in faces a double-edged sword. While cement takes an immense amount of energy to produce, the byproduct of concrete is considered one of the world’s most CO2-efficient materials that promote immense sustainability. 

Being Realistic in Solution-Based Efforts

So, what are the steps to finding a solution? Innovating more carbon-efficient methods to produce cement. Optimizing the amount of water in cement content in concrete mixes. Expanding the types of materials to be used in concrete. These are all innovations within the industry that are very realistic in helping us accomplish our goal of net-zero emission by 2030. R-E-D Industrial Products is at the forefront of these innovations with our development of new product lines we are confident that our efforts can play a pivotal role in reaching this industry goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.

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Water Use

Water Use Issues

Water is the world’s most precious resource. It is the most used resource in the world, the second most is concrete (1). This creates an issue in the industry when it comes to the need to create and maintain infrastructure but also preserve the world’s natural resources.

Concrete Demand and the Effects on Water Supply

Our industry will see its water consumption increase at a rate that could have effects domestically and globally.

  • The need for concrete is steadily increasing and has become more in demand than steel and wood (2).

  • Concrete production is responsible for 9% of industrial water withdrawal and about 2% of the world’s water withdrawal.  If innovations are not made with the production of cement, its water demand could create stress for geographical areas where water is scarce (2). 

  • With the demand for concrete structures and increased urbanization it is estimated that 60 percent of the population will live in urbanized areas (4). 

  • Worldwide, 30 billion tons of concrete are used each year, which is 3 times as much as 40 years ago per capita (3).

  • Studies show that if concrete demand increases at the current rate. Concrete water withdrawal will be equivalent to water withdrawal in its whole (agricultural, residential, and municipal water withdrawal) (2).

 

It is important for our industry to continue to innovate new ways of producing methods to limit water consumption without losing the quality of concrete for industrial production and infrastructure.

Innovating SCMs for Water Supply

Implementation of a variety of supplementary cementitious materials is one of the many avenues our industry can take to try and mitigate our impact on the geographical water supply. Limiting the amount of water needed to construct the world’s infrastructures is one step we can take in preserving the world’s most important resource. Without the sustainability of water, there is no sustainability in concrete.

Zero Waste Supply Chain

What is Zero Waste Supply Chain?

A zero-waste supply chain is redesigning the resource life cycle so that every product can be reused or recycled. This eliminates, or greatly decreases, trash sent to landfills and reduces the risk of waste being improperly disposed of via oceans, rivers, and other natural areas. It also limits the reliance on waste management methods such as incinerators, landfills, and other forms of disposal that contribute to pollution or are detrimental to sustainability.

How R-E-D Rethinks the Supply Chain

An issue that is becoming increasingly prevalent is logistics and efficiency within the supply chain. By following the same model with how we conduct our business by being reliable, efficient, and dependable, we seek to reduce, reuse, recycle and most importantly recover.  We aim to build a supply chain that is consistent with our sustainability goals, efficient in its execution, and sustainable in practice.

  • Reducing

Reducing our use of methods that create waste within the supply chain, from product packaging to transportation. Evaluating our supply chain for opportunities to reduce wasteful methods and innovate new systems that are more efficient.

  • Recovery

Using reverse logistics we focus on identifying when we can recover products, so they don’t become waste. When a product tests out of specifications, we look for possible ways to utilize the product in another approved and appropriate manner.

  • Reuse

Aiming to reuse any methods that make our supply chain more efficient in applications making for a more sustainable process.

  • Recycle

Assessing our supply chain for all opportunities to recycle. We aim to evaluate our supply chain to see what materials, packaging, and production can be recycled for use.

What are Supplementary Cementitious Materials?

Supplementary Cementitious Materials or SCMs are materials that, when used in collaboration with traditional portland cement, or blended cement add to the strengthening and curing properties through hydraulic and pozzolanic activity.

Why Supplementary Cementitious Materials?

In our industry, the use of traditional cement without these added aggregates is straining supply chains, sustainability efforts, and the life cycle of concrete structures. The production of cement is a primary contributor to greenhouse gas and carbon emissions. With SCMs the industry can reduce cement production as SCMs can replace varying percentages of cement that is needed for concrete mixtures. Certain SCMs can decrease the amount of water needed in concrete mixtures which can limit the amount of cement supply needed helping to promote sustainability throughout the production line.

Image by Zach Woolf

Diversification of SCMs

An issue in the industry and arguably the most important is implementing more Supplementary Cementitious Materials into concrete mixtures because it encompasses the solutions to a lot of the obstacles our industry is facing.  The use of SCMs is becoming crucial to reducing water use in concrete, accomplishing net-zero carbon emissions, and helping not only our company but others within the industry improve the waste management within their supply chain. 

How the Diversification of Supplementary Cementitious Materials Promote Solutions for the Industry

Why SCMs?

With cement production at an all-time high and the need for concrete structures is as important as ever with the increase in urbanization, the concrete industry needs to find ways to diversify materials to keep up with these demands.  Our industry needs stronger more sustainable structures due to climate change and harsher conditions.

Diversifying Concrete Mixtures Through SCMs

Traditional portland cement needs to become more versatile. SCMs are becoming more prominent in providing a resourceful cement replacement. Fly ash and silica fume are a few of the more popular options being used today, but limited sources have forced the industry into alternative measures.

New SCM Alternatives

R-E-D Industrial Products is trying to push SCMs into a new era of innovation with new product lines being sourced such as metakaolin, ground glass pozzolan (GGP), colloidal silica, and additional future product lines. We believe our efforts in providing new SCM alternatives will translate into a more diverse industry that can truly maintain consistency in sustainability well into the future.

Citations:

  1. “Carbon Foot Print - Cement.” Cement.org, Portland Cement Association, 1 Nov. 2020, https://www.cement.org/docs/default-source/th-paving-pdfs/sustainability/carbon-foot-print.pdf

  2. Miller, Sabbie A., et al. “Impacts of Booming Concrete Production on Water Resources Worldwide.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 8 Jan. 2018, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41893-017-0009-5

  3. “Concrete Needs to Lose Its Colossal Carbon Footprint.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 28 Sept. 2021, https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-02612-5. 

  4. “68% Of the World Population Projected to Live in Urban Areas by 2050, Says Un | UN Desa Department of Economic and Social Affairs.” United Nations, United Nations, https://www.un.org/development/desa/en/news/population/2018-revision-of-world-urbanization-prospects.html.