Progress update

Challenge to find new solutions

by Marian Garfield, head of sustainability

We welcomed the UK government’s Clean Growth Strategy, which sets out proposals for growing our national income while cutting greenhouse gas emissions throughout the 2020s and beyond.

Considerable effort continues to go into our energy and carbon reduction programmes. We have set targets for each business line and at a site level we encourage our sustainability representatives to champion the introduction and development of energy saving projects. In addition, we are looking more closely at normalised figures for our total CO2 emissions as they remove variations due to the production balance between different products and give us a clearer picture of specific areas on which we need to focus.

We are proud of the achievements we have made in promoting and increasing biodiversity at our sites, which have helped to create significant environmental benefits. All our quarries have biodiversity action plans in place and one of our sites – Keepershield in Northumberland – won the Mineral Products Association’s biodiversity innovation award for the successful translocation of Britain’s rarest lady’s mantle, Alchemilla micans.

Turning to safety, our lost time injury (LTI) frequency rate fell slightly during the year, but the number of LTIs was static. This was disappointing as a good number of the incidents involved minor slips or trips which could have easily been avoided. Communicating the lessons learned from accidents and continuing to embed behavioural safety are critical to improving performance. In addition to face-to-face training at site level, we issue company-wide alerts on accidents, near hits and good practice. We also hold regular sustainability conference calls for managers, with follow-up action plans, and we promote our success stories through the intranet and our employee magazine team.

A major development during the year was the launch of HeidelbergCement’s Sustainability Commitments 2030 to replace its existing Sustainability Ambitions 2020.

The new aspirations from our parent company challenge us to find new solutions and think differently to make our business even more sustainable; they also set ambitious targets that the Group hopes to achieve by 2030. As one of the leading business units within the Group, we are already closely aligned to many of the new commitments, which focus on six key areas of action along the entire value chain:

  • Driving economic strength and innovation - sustaining profitability through effective management and continuing innovation of products and services.
  • Achieving excellence in occupational health and safety - continuously improving working conditions for employees, contractors, and third parties and eliminating accidents.
  • Reducing our environmental footprint - fulfilling our share of the global responsibility to keep temperature rise below 2°C, and reducing impacts on air, land and water.
  • Enabling the circular economy ­- increasing the use of alternative resources as substitutes for natural raw materials.
  • Being a good neighbour - supporting the social and economic development of our communities and providing transparent communication to all stakeholders.
  • Ensuring compliance and creating transparency - adhering to international human rights, anti-corruption and labour standards.

The commitments have been developed by representatives from throughout the Group and they clearly demonstrate HeidelbergCement’s support both for the United Nations’ sustainable development goals and for the company’s own efforts to address global social, economic and environmental challenges.

Looking ahead, many of our sustainability targets are set for 2020. Next year we will be redefining all these targets to support UK government ambitions and ensure they align with our parent company’s commitments as we strive for continuous improvement.