Cement Industry Raises Bar For Environmental Excellence

(Philippine cement plants now benchmarked against best in the world)

After chalking up a string of international and local certifications and awards, the Philippine cement industry today has made its mark as an industry that upholds only the highest environmental standards in product manufacture.

Holcim Philippines' Cement Plant Bo. Ilang, Davao City. (Click image to enlarge)

Apart from domestic laws such as the Clean Air Act and the Hazardous Waste Act, cement companies, most of which have been invested in by foreign companies, are guided by their partner company’s own stringent rules and regulations. Philippine plants are now benchmarked against the best in the world, and this in turn, has resulted in cutting-edge manufacturing operations.

“This is consistent with the three priority directions which the board of CeMAP (Cement Manufacturers’ Association of the Philippines) has identified for 2006. Our sector intends to be the best, or among the very best, of the industry sectors in sustainable development and environmental concern, world class technology, and corporate social responsibility,” CeMAP President Dr. Ernesto M. Ordoñez said.

Dr. Edilberto L. Tadulan, chair of CeMAP’s Committee on Sustainable Development, points out that, “Since we are globally benchmarked, we don’t just comply with the local standards, we even strive to exceed them in order to satisfy our head offices’ expectations.”

Cemex Philippines' APO Cement Plant Naga, Cebu (Click image to enlarge)

He added that, “The majority of CeMAP member companies have received highly-prized international certifications, including ISO 14001 for Environment Management Systems, ISO 9002 for Quality Management Systems and OHSAS 18001 for the Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series.

”ISO 14001 directs companies to comply with specific environmental systems that enable them to maintain and improve environmental conditions in communities where they operate. ISO 9002, on the other hand, is a quality assurance model which certifies that member companies have internationally approved processes key to producing world quality cement. For health and safety management systems, OHSAS 18001 is designed to ensure the safety of all workers in offices and manufacturing plants.

Cement companies have likewise reaped many an award for environmental friendliness. CEMEX Philippines’ APO Cement Plant in Cebu, for one, received the 2001 Presidential Mineral Industry Environmental Award, the highest award given by the President of the Philippines for excellent environmental performance in the industry.

Holcim Philippines also bagged four major Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association awards in 2005, while Republic Cement Corporation, a Lafarge Associated Company, was the recipient of the Titanium

Presidential Mineral Industry Environmental Award for its sterling performance in quarry management operations in 2002, 1999 and 1998. It was also named the Safest Cement Plant in the Philippines for 2005 in the recently held 52nd Annual Mine Safety and Environment Conference.

“All members of the industry enforce strict self-regulation to ensure full compliance with the DENR’s requirements,” Dr. Tadulan said. “Before we can even begin to quarry, we have to obtain an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) from the DENR.

Taiheiyo Cement Philippines, Inc.'s Cement Plant San Fernando, Cebu (Click image to enlarge)

An Environmental Impact Assessment is conducted to evaluate vital environmental consequences that may result from the project. An ECC is not issued unless all requirements are fulfilled,” Dr. Tadulan added. Prior to starting any project, public consultation forums also are held with local government units, non-government organizations and residents to ensure that all issues are properly addressed.

The entrance of multinational investors in the late nineties paved the way for the transfer of technologies that helped reduce environmental risks in local cement manufacturing. By introducing international best practices, they  also helped raised the bar for the Philippine cement industry to levels at par with global standards.

Lafarge-associated Fortune Cement Plant Taysan, Batangas (Click image to enlarge)

In recent years, the companies have invested heavily in modernizing their operations, installing electrostatic precipitators, bag-house filters and continuous emission monitoring systems in all cement plants to keep emissions at the minimum levels accepted under the Clean Air Act.

In addition, the industry is starting to explore the use of alternative fuels and resources in cement manufacturing. “By using waste material as alternative fuel, we are able to help industries and LGUs manage their waste in an ecologically sound manner. In turn, this reduces our dependence on non-renewable energy,” Dr. Tadulan said.

Tree planting, waste recycling and community clean-ups are among the regular activities implemented by the companies in their respective communities. Mined-out quarry areas are rehabilitated and some cement companies have even adopted mountains for reforestation.

Armed with best practices, state-of-the-art technologies and a strong commitment to environmental protection, Philippine cement manufacturers prove to be able partners in achieving sustainable development.

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