Lafarge Solutions for Sustainability

Lafarge South Africa was the first cement company to introduce a complete range of lower carbon products some years ago and still is the only one to offer its customers this choice of cements. The success of the products comes from innovative formulations that combine a wide range of performance advantages with the environmental benefits of replacing some cement clinker with siliceous fly ash, a quality cementitious extender. Whereas the manufacture of cement clinker involves high emissions of ‘greenhouse’ gases, especially carbon dioxide (CO2), fly ash is a processed by-product of coal-fired power stations and involves zero emissions.

When discussing sustainable development in building materials, the question often asked is whether South Africa is lagging behind the rest of the West.  In general, Europe and the USA may be ahead in its environmental and waste management legislation but we are way ahead of overseas markets in some areas. For example, Lafarge South Africa’s range of fly ash extended products is very advanced and the company is advising on cement extension to Lafarge’s global cement operations.

Lafarge South Africa, the local subsidiary of the international Lafarge Group, a  world leader in building materials, benefits from the latest knowledge and best practices gained from the Group’s operations in 64 countries throughout the world. The Group also has the world’s largest building materials research and development centre in France, while its cement business has five major technical centres throughout the world (N. America, Austria, France, Egypt and Malaysia).

This unparalleled technical network assists the local company in developing innovative products and solutions for the South African construction industry. This is helping to provide better housing and more durable cities that will create a sustainable, more attractive living environment for our people. To help in this endeavour, Lafarge works closely with architects, engineers, developers and contractors to continually find better construction methods and building materials.

The well-known Buildcrete brand of general purpose cement illustrates Lafarge’s focus on providing exceptional performance combined with environmentally-friendly properties. This CEM IV 32,5R cement produces 50% less emissions in its manufacture compared with a standard ordinary Portland cement.  From the performance perspective, it also gives users the benefit of requiring significantly less cement than an average 32,5N general purpose cement to achieve a specific strength concrete mix.  Buildcrete forms dense durable concrete that is suitable for water retaining structures and is also a Sulphate Resisting Cement.

Lafarge has made the benefits of its unique CEM II 52,5N formulation available to smaller precasters, brick and block manufacturers, and DIY cement users in the form of the bagged product Fastcast. The environmentally-friendly product offers economy as less Fastcast is required per cubic metre of concrete than with lower strength class cements. The product can also save time and money as a result of the high rate of early strength development getting concrete jobs finished sooner and allowing quicker turnaround time of moulds and formwork.

Lafarge has for many years been an industry leader in sustainable development and was the first industrial group to enter into a worldwide ‘Conservation Partnership’ with the environmental protection organisation, WWF International. The group has a wide-ranging sustainability programme that involves projects around the world to reduce the environmental footprint of the company’s manufacturing processes and products, as well as biodiversity conservation programmes at its quarries. “In South Africa, we are deeply concerned about the destruction of our wonderful wildlife heritage by the impact of poaching on the rhino population,” says Lafarge South Africa’s Maria Sazeides, National Sales and Marketing Manager. “In addition to other support measures, we are donating part of the proceeds from every bag of Buildcrete sold to the Baby Rhino Orphanage at the Wildlife & Cultural Centre in Limpopo.”