According to reports, even the marginal use of industrial and municipal waste as fuel and raw material by the cement industry can notably cut carbon dioxide emissions and make a major difference to the overall environment, apart from the co-benefits of waste management, says the Shakti Foundation that promotes clean energy.
“Thermal substitution of just five percent in the cement industry can reduce India’s emission by about 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 annually,” says a white paper jointly submitted by the Shakti Foundation and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
“Such is the magnitude and impact which this opportunity creates,” it said.
Further, enhanced use of what is technically called AFR (alternate fuel and raw material) in cement kilns will also help cement plants to meet, or even exceed, their targets given under the perform, achieve and trade (PAT) scheme that is focussed on reducing Indian industry’s fossil fuel consumption.
The Shakti Foundation has launched a project to highlight and promote the use of alternative fuels and raw materials in the cement industry, along with CII’s Green Business Centre.
The project will bring together various stakeholders such as waste generators, cement plants, transfer storage and disposal facilities, government-run pollution control boards and non-profit organisations.
“The project will work closely with the appropriate state and central government departments to develop a framework and supporting systems that will make setting up a co-processing system simpler for cement plants,” the foundation said.
It will also help bridge the information gap among stakeholders by “developing a publicly available mapping of the waste in various states and co-processing scenarios. This mapping will be an inventory of hazardous and non-hazardous wastes, listing elements such as quantity and quality of waste available, source of waste, location of waste generators and process of disposal.”
India generates about 6.2 million tonnes of hazardous waste annually, of which 3.09 million tonnes is recyclable, 0.41 million tonnes is incinerable and 2.73 million tonnes is landfillable.
Various studies indicate that the reduction potential of green house gas emissions through waste utilization in cement kilns is extremely high.
Most developed countries extensively use industrial and municipal waste in cement manufacturing units. The Japanese cement industry utilises about 450 kg of waste for each tonne of cement manufactured. In European cement plants, thermal substitution from alternate fuels is as high as 90 percent.
However, the situation is quite different in India, where alternate fuel and raw material usage in cement kilns is less than one percent.