Cement Australia builds a sustainable future

by | Mar 22, 2024

As some of Australia’s largest industrial facilities move to eliminate carbon emissions under the Australian Government’s Safeguard Mechanism, Cement Australia is just one of many companies that will undergo major changes in support of the legislation.

Cement Australia

Introduced just last year, the Safeguard Legislation has targeted Australia’s top 215 industrial facilities to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.

Cement Australia’s Packaged Products and Marketing Manager, Marc Furlong, says as a big energy business, Cement Australia will ensure its manufacturing is more sustainable, and will also offer lower embodied carbon materials within their products in the near future.

“We are an energy-intensive business so we are always looking at how we can do things more efficiently, including how we can improve our manufacturing processes so that we offer the market a more sustainable range of products.”

“If we do not comply, we end up paying for carbon credits and this will have significant costs. The Federal Government’s idea is to incentivise businesses to be more efficient and to reduce their carbon emissions. The businesses that can do this well will benefit,” Mr Furlong said.

While the journey to become a more sustainable business is costly, Mr Furlong said currently Cement Australia is utilising its research and development resources more to create sustainable products and make large adjustments to its supply chains.

“This is a big focus for us or anyone with energy-intensive manufacturing processes. We have found while there is a section of the consumer market that does focus on supporting sustainable products, there seems to be more interest from consumers based in Melbourne, Sydney and the Australian Capital Territory, but less so in Queensland and Western Australia. It is quite a mixed bag,” he said.

Sustainable cement launch

Cement Australia is set to launch one of the most innovative products within the building and construction industry this year; a low-carbon cement that is expected to have 30 per cent less emissions than standard cement.

“We are in the process of conducting field trials of the low-carbon cement which will have 30 per cent less emissions than standard cement. We have been developing this for a while with the idea to launch middle of this year,” Mr Furlong said.

While the product is a new bagged cement made in Australia for the Australian market, the European market has traditionally been a bit more advanced within sustainability frameworks, and has developed low-carbon incentives for some time.

Industry outlook

While the forecast for the Australian building and construction industry remains quite mixed, with some financial forecasters warning of an economic slowdown, others say builders have full order books. It seems that forecasts depend on which state a builder is located.

“South East Queensland started the year a little slower than other states as it had a bit more rain than expected, while Sydney and Melbourne are still going strong. Eighteen months ago people might have said they had full order books until the end of the year whereas now they say they only have orders for the next three, or four months. This is why there is so much uncertainty in the pipeline.”

“While things have slowed since the Homebuilder Grant, if you look at the trends over the past 20 years it is actually just returning to the long-term trend. It is a little slower but it has just come off the peak,” Mr Furlong said.

As shipping costs begin to rise again, after dipping post-COVID, imported building material prices are also expected to rise as imported raw materials bear the brunt of these costs.

“The vast majority of our products are mined, processed and manufactured here in Australia. And our customers know they have a continued, reliable supply using our locally made products,” Mr Furlong said.

“Population growth means you need new houses, new schools, new roads, so as the population grows the market will also grow. I think the long-term outlook for the building and construction industry is positive,” he concluded.