Hard choices - concrete must shake off its huge carbon footprint 

In a blog, Recycl8 CEO Mark Gillespie discusses concrete's journey to eliminate its huge carbon footprint and how his company is playing a supportive role.
Quarry Products / April 27, 2023
By Mark Gillespie
Mark Gillespie, CEO of Recycl8, with IBA samples

The importance of reducing the immense CO2 emissions of the concrete industry cannot be overstated. According to the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Low Carbon Concrete Routemap, in the UK alone, concrete accounts for approximately 1.2% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, although globally, the cement production GHG emissions associated with the use of concrete could be as high as 4%-5%.

While cement accounts for 10 – 15% of the make-up of concrete, it is responsible for nearly 90% of the CO2 emissions from its production. In the UK alone, the annual CO2 emissions of cement production is a staggering * 9 million tonnes.

Recycle8 team
The Recycl8 team pictured left to right: Jim Young, technical industry consultant, Raymond Cowan, finance director; Yvonne Walker, business operations manager; Mark Gillespie, CEO; and Ian Skene, chief technology officer

It's important to note that there has been real progress recently, with overall CO2 emissions down by over a half from 1990 to 2018, so we have certainly made strides in the right direction. Nonetheless, all construction industry stakeholders must work together to achieve NetZero in the UK by 2050.

The ICE Routemap recommends several key measures that all construction industry stakeholders should embrace to reduce their operations' impact on climate change. One of these carbon reduction measures is improving how we make concrete: "Concretes that use other cements or constituents outside of current standards will be part of the overall solution to reducing the carbon intensity of the industry."*

Our industry experts have developed a breakthrough process that repurposes Incinerator Bottom Ash (IBA) - the ash from waste incineration - into a low-carbon, high-performance solution for concrete manufacture. Our solution reduces the quantity of cement required to make concrete – and therefore the volume of CO2 generated in the process, without sacrificing strength or quality. At Recycl8, we are on the cusp of bringing our pioneering contribution to this solution to market.

We are committed to reducing climate change today while maintaining the infrastructure for tomorrow's successful economies and communities. Close collaboration with the Energy-from-Waste and construction industries is crucial to our mission of reducing the carbon footprint of the concrete industry. We are committed to working with industry partners to develop, adapt and scale our sustainable, emission-shrinking solution.

*Source: UK GHG Nat. statistics 2021
*Source: ICE Low Carbon Concrete Routemap 2022