Managing sustainability

by Gordon on Tuesday 21st February, 2012

Behaving in a sustainable way is as relevant for businesses as it is for individuals.  CEMEX is one of the world’s largest building materials companies.  It needs to ensure a good financial performance for the business but takes its responsibilities towards the environment seriously.  For example, it locates its business activities either near to the sources of the raw materials it needs or close to its customers.  This means improved cost-effectiveness and helps the company contribute to reducing adverse impacts on the environment.

Local councils in the UK also aim to encourage the right sorts of behaviours to improve sustainability.  For example, many are aiming to improve the public’s awareness of the benefits of recycling and therefore increase the amount of recycling individuals and businesses carry out.  The Welsh government said Wales had the highest recycling rate in the UK with rates rising steadily, hitting 43.6% last year.  (BBC, 16th February 2012)

Under a strategy published in June 2010, councils have been set a recycling target of 70% to be met by 2024-25.  However, the Wales Audit Office (WAO) has said there are ‘substantial barriers’ to raising recycling rates.  Although the WAO says improving waste management will have a ‘comparatively small’ impact on climate change, it adds that there are good reasons to manage waste more effectively. It cites encouraging the public to recycle as a way to help embed the importance of ‘good environmental behaviour’.

CEMEX adopts a sustainable approach wherever possible.  For example, CEMEX is committed to use of rail for transporting goods, as these journeys give five times fewer emissions than similar journeys by road. It transports products via sea, rivers, conveyors and underground pipelines. This saves more than 400 lorry journeys per day and supports the UK Government’s objective of getting trucks off the road wherever possible.  Making cement is energy-intensive so CEMEX has increased by more than 30% the use of alternative fuels to heat its kilns.  This helped reduce emissions of CO2 across the business by 10%.

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