SAINT-GOBAINLes Miroirs18, avenue d'Alsace92400 CourbevoieFRANCE
At the Climate Action Summit in September 2019, Saint-Gobain solemnly set itself the objective of achieving carbon neutrality within 30 years. A long-term ambition that requires action in stages, year after year. In fact, Saint-Gobain was assuming this responsibility even before signing the agreement at the UN summit. Already in 2015, the Group had committed to reducing its water discharges by 80%, non-recovered waste by 50%, and CO2 emissions by 20% by 2025, compared to 2010. Action illustrates this momentum. As at the Bhiwadi plant in India, which collects rainwater on its roof to save 8,400m3 a year. Or Eslov, Sweden, which has been recovering 100% of its waste since 2019.
If the commitment to the Climate Action Summit is ambitious, it is because it requires action on all fronts.
Starting off with the energy efficiency of manufacturing processes. This topic includes both innovation through research and the installation of intelligent 4.0 plants capable of producing more with fewer raw materials and less energy.
Another linchpin is the energy mix at our plants. How can we decarbonize our electricity sources to be less dependent, for example, on coal-fired power plants? How can we increase the share of renewable energy?
In addition, we have the circular economy revolution. Production and consumption cycles, recovery of construction waste, etc. – each sequence is being re-organized so as to be integrated into a virtuous circle. This raw material will be replaced by that recycled material. For example, flat glass used in construction can be 50% recycled glass. Up to 90% in the case of glass wool. Saint-Gobain’s current efforts prevented the removal of more than 9 billion tons of primary natural raw materials in 2018. And one ton of cullet used for glass production instead of one ton of primary sand represents a saving of 350kg of CO2!
For these 30-year commitments to be met, initiatives must be repeated, small successes highlighted, and major changes encouraged. For the Saint-Gobain Group, it is a matter of being at the heart of this forward thrust by engaging with all stakeholders. A challenging but exciting roadmap for Saint-Gobain employees.
Besides the Group’s industrial activity, the materials marketed for its different markets - the foremost being construction, but also mobility or life sciences – are designed with an eye on energy performance. In Saint-Gobain research centers around the world, researchers are considering innovations that are moving glass, glass wool, insulation materials, mortars, and composite materials towards low carbon.
Sharing knowledge, know-how, and technology produces results more quickly. Saint-Gobain is building up partnerships around the world with companies that have shared ambitions.
Recently, Unity Homes, an American energy-efficient, sustainable house builder, signed an agreement with Saint-Gobain. The next jointly designed houses will be assembled more quickly, close to the sales areas, and will require less labor. So much saving on greenhouse gases. Especially since these partly prefabricated buildings also reduce materials wastage.
Another example: Saint-Gobain is developing its plants and increasing its production of glass wool specifically in Romania, Italy, and France. Their increased production capacity will support growth in the energy retrofit market, often encouraged by proactive public policies.
As of 2016, Saint-Gobain introduced internal pricing for carbon. The principle: the internal price for carbon acts as a decision-making tool for R&D projects or industrial investments. By directing choices toward low-carbon solutions, sometimes more expensive initially, a real rate of return on investment in the medium and long term is achieved. And the higher the price, the greater the innovation potential.
The move toward “net zero carbon” is made step by step, decision by decision, with a strong will, capitalizing on good practice, and always keeping the goal in mind.