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The worldwide cement industry is estimated to represent 5% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.

Evaluation of Low Carbon Fuels – Project 3

Lafarge Canada Inc. (Lafarge), Canada’s largest diversified supplier of construction materials, has undertaken a broad initiative to improve the sustainability of their Bath Plant by the year 2020, termed the Cement 2020 Initiative. Under this initiative, and working in Partnership with Queen’s University, environmental non-government organizations and various levels of government, Lafarge is reducing its imported fossil fuel use (with a current goal of a 30% reduction of fossil fuel use by the year 2020), and so lowering its Green House Gas (GHG) emissions, through the use of local and/or regional, sustainable, Low Carbon Fuels (LCF). Lafarge is currently approved to use virgin biomass (crops such as switch grass and oat hulls) as fuel in the cement manufacturing process and has a pilot study underway to assess the use of mixed biomass or otherwise lower carbon materials as fuels.

The first group of mixed biomass LCFs proposed for permanent use were:

  • construction and demolition materials;
  • asphalt shingles; and
  • weathered treated wood (such as railway ties and utility poles).

In April 2016 Lafarge completed an Environmental Screening Process (ESP) for these fuels (termed the “Evaluation of Low Carbon Fuels – Project 1”). The study concluded that the use of these LCFs is expected to have an overall positive affect on the environment and to benefit the community-at-large. With the use of these LCFs, Lafarge demonstrated it can reduce its imported fossil fuel use and thereby reduce their emissions of GHGs (specifically carbon dioxide [CO2]). Notably, the emission testing demonstrated that the GHG reductions were achieved with no increases in other emissions.

The second group of mixed biomass LCFs proposed for permanent use were:

  • paper fibre/wood/plastic composite materials, such as manufacturing rejects and trimmings of unused off-spec personal hygiene products, household goods, packaging labels and tape;
  • non-recyclable paper fibre packaging (and related similar products), such as rejects and trimmings from paper recycling facilities (i.e., ragger tails);
  • textiles, carpet cuttings, manufacturing end rolls and cores; and
  • disposable beverage cups and lids (e.g., K-cups).

Lafarge began an ESP for these fuels (termed the “Evaluation of Low Carbon Fuels – Project 2”) in June 2016. Preliminary results from this study indicate that the use of these LCFs can also reduce emissions of GHG (specifically CO2) from the Bath Plant. Once the analyses of the results are completed, Lafarge will present the study findings to the public at an open house event, and submit the study report to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) for evaluation. This study report will also be made available for the public to review.

Lafarge is now using the same ESP to evaluate a third group of mixed biomass LCFs. These materials are classified as by-products of existing recycling programs (i.e., have passed through an existing recycling program and been rejected), or are not eligible for recycling, and are therefore destined for landfill. Three additional types of LCFs have been identified: 

  • Non-recyclable rubber (not including used tires) and rubber recycling by-products (e.g., polyester/nylon fiber from tire recycling facilities);
  • Non-recyclable plastics from Material Recovery Facilities and the ICI sector; and
  • Non-odorous oversized and/or unused compost materials (e.g., twigs, plastic bags). 

This study (termed “Evaluation of Low Carbon Fuels - Project 3”) is being undertaken in accordance with the requirements of Ontario Regulation 101/07 under the Environmental Assessment Act for Waste Management Projects. The ESP will carefully assess potential effects (including benefits) of these proposed fuel sources to the community and the environment.

The Draft Project Description Report, and Draft Screening Criteria Report, are available at the links below.

Draft Project Description Report

Draft Screening Criteria Report

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