Cement maker PPC targets opportunities amid a green disruption

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PPC manufactures cement and related products for construction industries across Africa.
PPC manufactures cement and related products for construction industries across Africa.
Picture: Netwerk24
  • PPC expects climate change to impact its financial performance.
  • The company will now invest R664 million to reduce it carbon emissions by 10% in 2025.
  • Carbon dioxide challenges for the cement industry are significant and many challenges lie ahead.

PPC, a leading supplier of cement in southern Africa, has committed to reduce its carbon emissions by 10% in just four years as it works to mitigate climate related risks while also exploiting opportunities that the green revolution will bring.

PPC, like an increasing number of corporates, has committed to reach "net-zero" or carbon neutrality by 2050. It will also target a 10% reduction in carbon emissions by 2025 and a 27% reduction by 2030.

PPC manufactures cement and related products for construction industries across Africa.

The carbon dioxide challenges for cement are significant, the group said in a report to disclose its decarbonisation strategy.

Within sub-Saharan Africa, PPC has found the industry’s ability to decarbonise is inhibited by the lack of viable options to reduce emissions, the lack of consumer willingness to pay for greener products, and the lack of standards, testing and track records of new products.

Forging ahead with decarbonation

Still, PPC is determined to forge ahead with decarbonisation efforts in a bid to secure its long-term sustainability and forge a new path for itself and its peers.

"Ultimately, we do know better now than yesterday that this topic of climate change will have an impact on our financial performance," said PPC Africa’s group CEO Roland van Wijnen.

It will, however, bring both risks and opportunities, he said. 

"We know that the change of energy mix in for example, South Africa will require a number of investments in renewable energies such as wind, and we have a role to play by providing the concrete necessary to build this infrastructure."

In decarbonising its operations, PPC expects to be at the forefront of the local industry.

A budget of R664 million has been set aside to achieve its 2025 emission reduction target.

The decarbonisation strategy will mainly focus on the use of renewable within PPC’s electrical energy mix, the use of alternative fuels to replace coal use, the  overall equipment efficiency at plant level and to scale up research and investments to reduce the amount of clinker used in the production of cement.

Many challenges ahead

PPC’s long term target remains heavily dependent on a regulatory framework and the speed and cost of innovation, Van Wijnen said.

Many challenges lie ahead.

The company has already identified country-specific construction methods and codes as a challenge to its decarbonisation efforts. South Africa’s regulatory framework, for example, is not yet conducive to the deployment of certain emission-reduction strategies, such as the use of waste as a fuel source, to the same extent that is possible in Europe.

Regardless, PPC now intends to take a leadership role in the use of waste as a fuel source, building on existing initiatives like the burning of waste tyres instead of coal at its De Hoek factory in the Western Cape and its use of biomass fuels in Rwanda.

"We intend to forge ahead amid this uncertainty and despite these challenges, continuously evaluating our strategy, being agile in our responses to changing circumstances, and collaborating with stakeholders to create the necessary enabling environment," PPC said.

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