Serge Schmidt: Devnya Cement has a longstanding commitment to sustainability

Automation & RoboticsInterviewSouth-East European INDUSTRIAL Мarket - issue 4/2013

Serge Schmidt
Executive Director of Devnya Cement AD & Vulkan Cement AD

What specific measures aimed to prevent harmful effects on the environment are enshrined in the corporate policies of Devnya Cement?
As part of Italcementi Group, the 5th largest cement producer in the world and member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Devnya Cement is strongly dedicated to find a better balance between corporate business growth, environmental protection and public social responsibility.

In Bulgaria, Devnya Cement is a plant with a long history that prides itself with its longstanding commitment to sustainability. Globally, we have 7 corporate Sustainability policies that include Safety, Quality, Human Rights, Environment, Energy, Social Initiatives and Health. Personally, I consider that it is the Management’s responsibility to integrate these policies in the company’s core business strategy and for all employees to remain devoted and apply the policies in their everyday work activities.

The work of our Sustainable Development department is not only concentrated on preventing, minimizing and mitigating the environmental impact, but going even further to engage and actively promote environmentally-friendly behavior among all staff members, striving to continuously encourage environmentally sustainable innovation, eco-efficient technologies and management systems.

In answer to your question, the specific measures aimed to prevent harmful effects on the environment that are enshrined in the corporate policies of Devnya Cement include eight key priorities that we are all strongly committed to continuously improve:

• Proactively addressing the challenges of climate change ensuring reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, with focus on renewable energy sources and efficient use of energy ;

• Responsible use of resources including fossil fuels and raw materials;

• Reduction of water consumption and maintenance of its quality ;

• Waste management - minimizing the generation of hazardous and other waste, promoting reuse and recycle of materials, where feasible, and disposal of waste in a safe and responsible manner;

• Employee health and safety;

• Local impact on land and communities - developing rehabilitation plans for all its active quarry operations, caring for the existing biodiversity and fostering conservation of endangered species;

• Reporting and communications - conducting regular environmental audits and ensuring open and transparent communication;

• Ensuring that all plants and equipment are designed, operated and maintained to minimize environmental risks.

It is truly a great honor for us to have our relentless efforts recognized by the Bulgarian government as well as different national institutions.

We are holders of numerous environmental awards including the 3rd prize Certificate "The Greenest Companies in Bulgaria for 2011" - commemorating the company’s green achievements and proactive green behavior and the most recent prestigious environmental award "Green Business of 2013" by the Ministry of Environment & Water, for the active engagement and self-funded projects and initiatives that are continuously implemented in the company.

What projects have you realized in terms of efficient use of resources?
As I have already mentioned, internally, Devnya Cement periodically organizes environmental projects driven by the employees, fully engaging them so to increase their awareness with regards to environmental conservation in the form of department competitions that are based on the achievement of annual targets concerning the reduction of waste generation, increasing waste separation, reducing fuel and energy usage, paper utilization, individual green behavior etc.

In my opinion, these are very successful initiatives that bring people together, develop solidarity and solidify the team atmosphere that is centered towards the achievement of one and the same goal. Just to name a few, our employees have been engaged in the "Live Green Challenge", the "Greenest Department" competition, and the "Let’s Clean Bulgaria for 1 Day" campaigns that promote the more conscious management of resources in the company and ensure a more environmentally sustainable work atmosphere for all employees working on the Company’s premises, as well as doing our part in securing the environmental wellbeing of the surrounding communities.

The many initiatives taken by Devnya Cement have also been rewarded by international recognitions, such as the ISO 9001 - Quality Management Certificate, ISO 14001 - Environment Management System, ISO 14064 - Carbon Footprint Certificate, fulfilling the highest demands of the local market, as well as all European standards and regulations.

The Company is also certified under ISO 50001 - Energy Management System.

Can you share the achievements of Devnya Cement related to the utilization of alternative fuels?
Worldwide, Italcementi Group is renowned for engaging in continual research and application of new technologies that reduce the existing ’carbon dependency’ associated with manufacturing, using alternative energy source such as waste or others non-contaminated products.

It is a well established fact that the cement manufacturing process typically allows for relevant opportunities to use recycled materials: this could be in the form of partial substitution of raw materials or fuels, reducing the environmental pressure on non-renewable resources.

The Technical and Sustainable Development departments of Devnya Cement are continuously involved in testing and researching of biomass utilization in the kilns as an alternative energy source.

We are all eagerly awaiting the  New Line for the production of clinker and cement project, an investment of over M EUR 160 currently underway at Devnya which, in compliance with all local legislation, will allow us to utilize RDF (refuse derived fuel) and biomass fuel in these new installations.

With the advanced features introduced by the new production line, the utilization of RDF and other type of alternative fuels in the cement plant will ensure emission levels well below the ones required by the legislation on the co-incineration of waste, and will be completely in line with Bulgaria’s obligations to the EU in this field.

How do you perform your monitoring of the environmental impact?
I believe that we are very strict in monitoring our impact on the environment. This is a commitment that we hold at highest regard. In relation to the integrated Environmental Management System, Devnya Cement AD has undertaken a series of activities directed at improving its energy efficiency.

Intending to shift its focus more on energy issues, in December 2010 the company became a pioneer by obtaining a Certificate for Energy Management System (EMS) in conformity with Standard EN 16001:2009. In November 2011, Devnya Cement successfully passed the process of conversion from EN 16001 to the newly established standard ISO 50001:2011.

Being the first to implement the Environment Management System in the country is a giant stride forward that confirms our commitment and our leading position in the sector and in all of Bulgaria.

Furthermore, the company also led the way with the ISO 14064 Carbon Footprint - issued to Devnya Cement on the basis of the company’s practices for minimizing of electricity consumption and carbon dioxide emissions savings.

Our company was the absolute first in Bulgaria to obtain this certificate that assesses and verifies the greenhouse gas emissions of the company.

In my opinion, these two major achievements demonstrate that we are a driving force who proactively change our approach to the environment and advocate for such green ethical behavior.

What technologies do you specifically use for the implementation of environmental projects in your company?
As a subsidiary of Italcementi Group, our primary focus is on innovation, the application of new technologies and know-how. Among the main achievements concerning technologies for environmental projects implementation are:
• In 2001 Devnya Cement plant installed the first continuous monitoring devices in Bulgaria enabling the permanent control of air emissions.

The investment for this installation amounted to 500 000 Euro and in 2003 additional equipment was installed at the amount of 250 000 Euro. Bulgaria - an investment valued at 500 000 Euro.

In 2003, additional equipment worth 250 000 Euro was installed. The installation allows different signals to be transmitted to the kiln control room, available to facilitate the work of the operator.

Each half an hour, the average value is recorded and, at the end of the month, these reports are sent to RIEW (Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Water). The continuous monitoring system has a very important role in process optimization and the decrease of the environmental impact.

• Devnya Cement is actively contributing to valorize wastes from other industrial processes in Varna region by including them as alternative raw materials in its production process. Cement production is an energy intensive process but, this allows us to be among the very few in Bulgaria able to utilize production waste as a partial substitution of the traditional raw materials.
• Full recycling of industrial and rain sewerage waters at the Devnya Cement plant eliminates the risk of contamination of the local Devnenska River, as well as reducing water usage.

What new projects are you planning to implement in the short-term?
The project that first comes to mind is our currently ongoing New Line project for the production of clinker and cement that started in April 2012 with the company’s acceptance of the Class A Investment Certificate.

We are counting down the days until the commissioning of the new plant, planned in early 2015.

In my opinion, by far, this is the most significant project, since it is one of the largest investments made in Bulgaria in the last quarter century and since it will bring the best available technology in cement production to the country with the most modern and up-to-date process, safety and environmental control systems in line with the European Environmental requirements and standards.

This makes me and everyone else, part of Italcementi Group, extremely proud. The new cement installation will have enormous local, regional and national benefits since it will allow the company to continue to meet the important cement demand on the domestic market in support of the growing need of infrastructure projects, roads and bridges, as well as a wide variety of residential and non-residential construction works.

Some of the noteworthy economic and environmental benefits include the following:
• Fuel consumption will be reduced by up to 50%, consequently considerably reducing  CO2 emissions

• NOx emissions will be reduced by more than 50% and SO2 emissions will be lowered by over 80%

• The new production facility will be capable of efficiently utilizing alternative fuel sources and two handling systems, one for RDF (refuse derived fuel) and one for biomass

• Reduction of  dust emissions by approximately 90% Plant water demand will be greatly reduced and a new water treatment plant is being constructed for the preliminary treatment of rain water from the production site

• The improvements in overall quality control and clinker quality from the new kiln is expected to deliver a very consistent quality cement to the market

It is no secret that we are extremely grateful to have this opportunity to incorporate the of top-of-the-line existing cement production technologies in the Devnya plant.

In this way, Italcementi Group aspires to transform the plant facilities into a greener pasture by reducing its carbon footprint and making a dashing long-term impact towards a greener economy and industry regionally.

I and the rest of the Devnya Cement team feel that we are doing something truly innovatory and historical and we are looking forward to the forthcoming milestone in 2015.