Lafarge: Consistently Marching Towards Net Zero

Development

Kunle Aderinokun writes on Lafarge Africa’s commitment to environmental sustainability through a consistent effort to reduce carbon emissions

The United Nations in September 2021 estimated the world’s population at 7.9 billion. As the human population expands, there is an increasing need to build sustainable and affordable cities that meet the needs of the current generation, while preserving resources for future generations. As the global leader in innovative and sustainable building solutions, a giant in a global industry that supplies critical economic infrastructure and fulfils indispensable human needs, Lafarge plays an essential role in the global acceleration towards achieving net zero.

One very important means through which Lafarge Africa fulfils this commitment to environmental sustainability is by documenting progress towards “reinventing how the world builds in order to make the planet greener, smarter and healthier for all”. It published an on Annual Sustainability Report, the 2020 edition which was presented to the Nigerian Exchange Limited, on August 26, 2021 in the Facts Behind the Sustainability Report session. The FBSR is a platform set up by the Nigerian Exchange Limited to entrench Environmental Social and Governance amongst listed companies.

Net zero refers to the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. In other words, net zero is reached when the amount added is no more or less than the amount taken away.

Holcim Group, of which Lafarge Africa is a member has adopted a holistic approach on its journey towards net zero. It sets and monitors country specific targets across its operations in over 70 countries, invests in and deploys innovative green solutions such as the use of alternative fuels for renewable energy. This approach has also resulted in big projects such as Maiganga Wetlands in Gombe through which former coal mines covering six hectares have been transformed into a wetland rich in biodiversity. The project assists the surrounding community with irrigation that allows year-round farming.

In 2020, Lafarge Africa’s total CO2 emissions was 583 kilogrammes per tonne of cementitious material (kg/ tonnes), a significant progress that sets a solid base for the Group’s ambition to achieve the targets mapped out in its Net Zero RoadMap of achieving 550Kg net CO2/tonne of cementitious material by 2022.

Lafarge Africa’s commitment to the “circular economy” involves a move from a “take, make, waste” approach to natural resources to a “reuse and remanufacture” approach. In 2020, Lafarge reused 71,029 tons of waste such as discarded car tyres in its operations at its Ewekoro, Sagamu and Ashaka plants. Now 9% of the company’s energy is derived from alternative fuels such as palm kernel shell, cashew shells, saw dust, rice husk etc. The Holcim group aims to reuse 80 million tons of waste annually to generate power.

Reducing carbon emissions through the use of alternative fuels and recycling industrial waste has also been a way for Lafarge to create jobs. Local suppliers accounted for over 35,000 tonnes of biomass supplied to Lafarge plants in 2020 and a total of 3,000 jobs were thus generated in the host communities. Lafarge joined forces in its quest to protect the environment with the Food and Beverage Recycling Alliance (FBRA) of Nigeria and regulatory agencies like NAFDAC, as well as pharmaceutical companies. Through these partnerships, Lafarge Africa gains easy access to industrial wastes that it recycles for fuel. The company has invested over 10.7 million dollars in alternative fuel projects over the past 4 years.

The company’s freshwater withdrawal in 2020 was 201L/ton for cement and 228L/M3 for ready mix. To enhance environmentally sustainable management of scarce water resources, Lafarge Africa has installed water flow meters at its plants which measure its water consumption, withdrawal and discharge rates.

The year 2020 tested Lafarge Africa’s oft-repeated commitment to the social, human and economic resilience of its host communities. The company committed N1.2 billion to social investments. This included interventions to curtail the spread of the new coronavirus and to reduce the social and economic burdens created by the restrictions on movement imposed by the government to control the pandemic.

Lafarge’s interventions focused on creating and amplifying health awareness and prevention campaigns, provisions of drugs and medical equipment and isolation centres. Food relief packages were distributed to over 11,000 families across Lagos, Ogun, Cross River, Gombe, and Rivers States and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja during the lockdown. Lafarge’s social investment programmes in 2020 included bursaries for students and training in farming and poultry to impart skills and enhance livelihoods in Nigerian communities.

The challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic highlighted the importance of a robust environmental, social and governance system, Chairman of Lafarge Africa Plc, Adebode Adefioye, remarked: “Despite an unprecedented turn of events and a challenging year, Lafarge Africa was able to demonstrate resilience through the successful implementation of several initiatives such as our Health, Cost and Cash action plan.” According to Adefioye, the company’s strong ESG framework has allowed it to prioritise the health and safety of our people, suppliers and communities as part of our mitigation strategies.

The Country CEO of Lafarge Africa Plc, Khaled El Dokani, acknowledged that the company’s business resilience strategy allowed it to stay focused on achieving sustainability targets while also implementing production cost optimisation and improved operational efficiency plans. El Dokani said at the presentation to the Nigerian Stock Exchange: “We also accelerated the Business Resilience Team and immediately initiated daily meetings to agree on our response to the growing pandemic. With these in place, we were able to prioritise our people and operations and close out the year with a remarkable performance.”

Despite the disruptions of the Coronavirus pandemic, Lafarge recorded sales revenue grew by 8.3per cent to NGN230.6 billion in 2020, while Earnings before Interest and Tax (EBIT) climbed 30.8 per cent to NGN 45.7 billion.

Lafarge Africa marked the 60th anniversary of operations in Nigeria in 2020, making it a suitable year to demonstrate its commitment to sustainable operations in host communities and the nation. To mark the anniversary, Lafarge showcased the landmark architectural monuments which have been built with Lafarge cement over the last 60 years which remain solid today. Such iconic structures include Cocoa House Ibadan, Mapo Hall Ibadan and the Lekki-Ikoyi Link bridge Lagos.

Lafarge Africa Plc, is a member of Holcim – the leading global construction materials and solutions company in the world. A publicly quoted company on the Premium Board of The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) serving the Nigerian market with a wide range of building and construction solutions specially designed to meet local housing and construction needs, Lafarge Africa Plc. has four (4) plants in Nigeria with a combined installed cement production capacity of 10.5 MTPA. At the heart of the company’s operations are research and innovation, two ideals with which we have created a viable business which has made the company the global leader in sustainable building materials and solutions.

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