As a consumer of fossil (gas, etc.) and precious (water) resources, and also as an emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG), over the last few years our Group has regularly invested in the best available technologies for its sites.
Our objective is to develop environmentally friendly manufacturing processes. Consequently the Group’s two newest plants, Chagny for tiles and Colomiers for bricks, benefit from equipment that reduces energy consumption per functional unit of manufactured product.
We publish our GHG emission report in accordance with Article 75 of France’s Grenelle 2 environmental charter. In fact, we are currently working on an inventory of our consumption and our pollutant emissions:
About 90% of the energy used by our Group in terracotta production relates to drying and then baking the products at temperatures of between 850 ° C and 1150 ° C. The main fuel used is natural gas.
Electricity is used for grinding, mixing, and extruding the raw materials, as well as for running fans and cutting and handling equipment.
Indirect energy consumption is more difficult to control, but is however limited and mainly concerns the transport of raw materials and finished products (estimate: 7%, according to a 2013 study by the Fédération Française des Tuiles et Briques).
Clay, the main raw material, is extracted in the immediate vicinity of the plants and is produced by the Group itself; as far as the distribution of products is concerned, it is mainly regional.
The main greenhouse gas emitted during production is carbon dioxide (CO2). It is produced from gas combustion, the decarbonation of limestone clays during the baking process and the treatment process used for furnace flue gas, which is passed through scrubbers. TERREAL published its first greenhouse gas emissions report for 2011 in October 2012, in accordance with Article 75 of French law No. 2010-788 dated 12 July 2010 laying down the national commitment to the environment ("Grenelle 2"). In accordance with the legislation, Terreal’s carbon footprint will be updated every three years. The next report will be published in 2015 for the year 2014.
Water consumption is monitored and measured on each site. The total consumption of water and mains water consumption is a new CSR-Terreal indicator which was introduced in 2013. Collection tanks make it possible to use rainwater in the mixture shaping process.
Natural mineral resource consumption relates directly to the clay and sand used in making terracotta products and represents 98% of incoming tonnages in our plants.
Examples of reducing energy consumption
The installation of an air / air heat exchanger in the Mureaux plant (78) allows energy from the firing furnace flue gas to be recovered for use in drying the tiles. Result: 3.7 GWh / year saved - the equivalent of the amount of primary energy needed for the entire life cycle of 3,300 tonnes of tiles (manufacturing, transport, end of life). The natural gas bill and CO2 emissions have also been reduced by 10%.
The new terracotta brick production plant in Colomiers (31) is more efficient from an energy point of view that the older brick production plants. For example, the total consumption of energy resources per functional unit for a 20 cm brick was reduced by more than 45.8% with this investment. (sources EPDS for 20 cm brick FFTB and FDES Calibric® Terreal)
In addition, the installation of photovoltaic solar panels makes use of the roofs of our plants and the sites of two former quarries. In 2011, four production plant roofs were equipped with nearly 22,600 m² of photovoltaic solar panels that produce a total of 3.37 million kWh per year.
Optimizing our transport
In 2007, we set up a "transport" unit responsible for optimizing truck loading and journeys. The aim is to rationalize energy costs by offering an alternative to customers collecting the products.
With raw materials, for example, the Group has established its new plant in Chagny, in the Saône-et-Loire area, actually on the clay extraction site, meaning 4,000 (8 km) truck journeys are avoided per year. In 2013, Terreal continued its economical driving training for clay extraction equipment.
Our levers for reducing the use of exhaustible mineral resources
Although clay and sand are currently considered to be abundant resources, Terreal has implemented actions to limit the amounts used.
A centrifuge mill in Chagny 2 grinds very finely and therefore makes it possible to use all the layers of clay in the quarry. Grinding finely also makes it possible to reduce the bulk of manufactured tiles by 10%, while maintaining the same properties (mechanical strength, impermeability, and frost resistance).
Recycling 100% of the baked waste from production in the south of France plant has produced significant savings on sand.
The new Colomiers plant produces Calibric® bricks whose main asset is their very lightweight composition.
A general policy that aims to drastically reduce scrap rates has been implemented by Terreal’s operations management.
Our levers for reducing greenhouse gas emissions
In order to reduce its CO2 emissions, Terreal decided to replace fossil fuels with bio-fuels. The Group has been running a programme to convert seven of its sites to bio-fuels since 2014. However, tile firing requires great precision in the furnace temperature. This conversion can only be done by including a number of precautions and technical safeguards. But technology is not the only issue at stake in these projects: for example, a methane project using cattle manure has created new relationships within the local area between the plant that uses the biomethane, the cattle breeders who supply the manure, and the farmers who use the digestate as fertilizer. Our business is already well rooted in local areas because the clay we extract is found in the immediate vicinity of our plants, and our products are primarily distributed within the region. Now our energy will also be generated on site from local materials.
Against this background, we signed a contract in 2015 with the household waste treatment centre in Chagny (SMET 71) which has set up a biogas plant for biodegradable waste on the site of our quarry. The biomethane produced has exactly the same qualities as natural gas and can be used directly for making the tiles produced less than 200m away. This is an example of a local scale circular economy, and has been widely praised as being innovative. It entirely fits in with the energy transition measures being implemented in France.
With all its energy saving and bio-energy actions, by 2020 Terreal aims to have reduced its consumption of CO2 / ton by 20%.
Since 2005 Terreal has been subject to a greenhouse gas emissions allowance exchange system (or ETS, Emissions Trading Scheme), with a view to reducing these emissions in Europe (Directive 2003/87 / EC and 2009 / 29 / EC).
With 11 sites concerned in France, the Group monitors and declares CO2 emissions for each of them (available on the French Pollutant Emission Register www.irep.ecologie.gouv.fr).
Today, building represents about 40% of total energy consumption in France and almost 20% of CO2 emissions. Therefore, it focuses the main source of energy savings.