Business Standards Magazine

Demonstrating advanced environmental management


Courtesy of Business Standards Magazine

Everyone has high expectations when it comes to maintaining the environment. But for Castle Cement, just meeting those expectations wasn't enough.

Managing stakeholder expectations is a major challenge for those implementing environmental management systems (EMS). Increased demands for transparency are driving process-based management systems and the rise in public reporting of environmental data. Castle Cement, the UK arm of the HeidelbergCement Group, has met this challenge with the help of BSI Management Systems, demonstrating advanced environmental management and engaging with key stakeholders.

Castle Cement enjoys sales of more than three million tonnes in the UK per annum and its cement has been used from the Channel Tunnel rail link to the new Arsenal Football Club stadium.

The production process of cement can have a severe impact on the environment if not managed carefully. Key challenges include reducing CO2 emissions and increasing the use of alternative fuels derived from waste, while convincing stakeholders - government, owners, neighbours, employees, media, NGOs and regulators - of the benefits of these changes. In response, Castle wanted to improve consistency across sites, to ensure compliance with legislation and give senior management and regulatory bodies the confidence that environmental issues were being properly managed. This involved implementing effective, integrated process management and robust data reporting systems internally, and receiving third- party assurance from BSI and reporting externally to stakeholders.

The implementation of ISO 14001, the international environmental management system standard, gave Castle the framework to work within and helped identify compliance issues. As Iain Walpole, environment manager at Castle Cement, points out: 'BSI has helped identify weaknesses in our systems, which we have been able to improve on.'

This commitment to continual improvement is central to the success of Castle's environmental management. Specific issues, such as the management of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the UK and EU emissions trading schemes elevated the requirement for a robust management system and data reporting processes.

BSI undertook workshops for the management team and completed a detailed verification of the reported baseline and annual GHG emissions data. However, Castle didn't stop there. The need for accountability went beyond regulatory compliance and activities were implemented to improve on the environmental impacts at the core of Castle's business strategy. Two key activities signalled Castle's intent towards best practice: the introduction of the most modern cement kiln in Europe and the production of their first audited sustainability report in 2003.

Castle Cement's kiln 4 at Padeswood Works in north Wales will increase Castle's production at the works from 500,000 to over 800,000 tonnes of cement per year, and the kiln operates to the highest levels of environmental control and performance.

Central to the greatly improved performance is the use of alternative fuels, in which Castle has been a pioneer. This will reduce the company's carbon dioxide emissions by 17.5 per cent per tonne of cement produced against 2004 performance.

'Kiln 4 will lead to major improvements in the local environment,' says Peter Weller, managing director of Castle Cement. 'It will also help reduce the region's dependence on landfill sites while using waste for cleaner production and lower energy consumption.'

Along with the technical developments, in 2005 Castle produced their second sustainability report, also audited by BSI. Sustainability reporting gives Castle the opportunity to communicate with stakeholders on the key issues facing the company and the steps they have taken, and are taking, to address these issues. To ensure accuracy in this report, Castle had BSI audit monitoring, data collection, analysis and reporting mechanisms, all of which BSI found to be acceptable.

'BSI's verification has made us question our own approach to how we collect and use environmental data,' says Walpole. 'Now that we have more robust reporting systems, it is much easier and quicker to respond to stakeholders and assess the impact of potential changes, such as new hazardous waste regulations upon the company.' The report has also committed to some serious ongoing environmental targets, including:

  • Reduction of specific net CO2 emissions by 20 per cent compared to the Castle baseline by the end of 2006.
  • Increase use of alternative fuels to 70 per cent by the end of 2008.
  • Reduce emissions of SO2 by 90 per cent by the end of 2006.
  • Zero complaints from normal operations by the end of 2008.

An Integrated Management System (IMS) is already in place across the whole company. Both internal audits and BSI verification visits cover the two ISO management system standards, 9001 and 14001, and OHSAS 18001. Monitoring and reporting requirements under the EU ETS are also part of the IMS and Castle would like this verification work to be integrated into routine assessments.

'We need to continue to reduce our emissions and increase the level of personal responsibility for environmental impacts in day-to-day operations, rather than using a technological fix,' Walpole says.

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