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To become more eco-efficient and reduce demand for fossil fuels, the cement industry has had to become smarter in the way it uses, reuses and recycles raw materials, energy and waste. The CSI views waste as a potential recovery opportunity, rather than simply as a disposal problem.

Certain types of waste have untapped potential as a substitute fuel supply and raw material in the cement manufacturing process. By-products from domestic, industrial, or agricultural sources can be used as fuels, partially replacing traditional fossil fuels. This reduces the associated environmental impacts of finding, producing, transporting and burning these fuels. It also decreases the loads on landfills and incinerators and their environmental impacts, including: potential groundwater pollution, methane generation and hazardous ash residues.

The mining and power generation industries produce mineral by-products that can be used in cement or concrete production. Biomass can also be used as a partial fuel substitute, which helps reduce CO2 emissions.

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In some countries, cement kilns are being used as an integral part of the waste management infrastructure. They can provide energy and materials recovery, offering safe disposal options for many of society’s wastes. Particularly in developing nations, which may have little or no waste management infrastructure, properly designed and operated cement kilns can provide a practical, cost-effective and environmentally effective option to landfill and incineration.

In 2005, the CSI published – after extensive consultation with key stakeholder groups like the IUCN, WWF, The Natural Step, The Nature Conservancy, UK environmental regulators and others – Guidelines for the Selection and Use of Fuels and Raw Materials in the Cement Manufacturing Process.

Importantly, the CSI will continue to work with stakeholders to identify the proper designs and operational and maintenance practices that make co-processing waste a safe and eco-efficient operation.

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