Charismatic Green Cement COO Youssef Tawfik caught up with T2NZ an in-depth conversation about the current state of play in the climate-friendly, sustainable cement industry and the trajectory for growth within this segment of the cement as demand for adoption increases.
Originally from Egypt, the Sorbonne & Paris Dauphine Business School graduate is a visionary leader who has worked with internal boards and senior stakeholders to effectively align and deliver organizational objectives while driving the company strategy and vision. The ‘out of the box thinker with a track record of cultivating a high-performance culture through driving business efficiencies has continually improved operational execution since he started at GCF in Jan 2020.
At Green Cement, Tawfik is responsible for the overall company results reporting to the Board of Directors in Hong Kong.
The interview covers the need for policymakers to knuckle down on overcapacity in the region and a reward system for projects and vendors collaborating to reduce carbon emissions. Green Cement’s mission and vision extend beyond becoming the trusted provider of low-carbon cement and cement products. The team operates with a deeper purpose to use technology to effect positive social impact in the world.
Q: What are Green Cement’s sustainability goals and as CEO how are you involved in driving the sustainability agenda across internal and external stakeholders?
A: In Green Cement, we ensure sustainability by measuring environmental impacts and working towards continuous improvement to ensure that environmental impacts are minimized. Our focus is to reduce the impact on climate change by:
- Monitor and minimize the release of pollutants into the air
- To develop & manufacture innovative sustainable products & solutions by ensuring optimization of the use of energy and promoting energy efficiency as well as the use of renewable energy sources
- Reducing the use of non-renewable sources where it is safe and economically relevant.
- Minimizing our impact on water resources by limiting the use of water, by using recycled water, promotion of water-efficient practices, and responsible water discharge.
- We implement biodiversity management plans by the implementation of afforestation activity inside the plant and surrounding the plant.
- We assess, and appropriately mitigate, our impacts on surrounding communities regarding fugitive dust, noise, vibration, and traffic.
- We reuse, recover and/or recycle waste materials in our production processes where feasible, minimize the generation of any hazardous and other waste and dispose of waste using safe and responsible methods.
In short, at Green Cement, we are fully committed to safeguarding the environment and hence we continuously strive to improve in terms of conducting our business in a consistent sustainable manner while upholding our companies’ principles.
To ensure sustainability is driven throughout internal and external stakeholders, by having a thorough environmental management system and by ensuring continuous improvement process. In addition to this, we also have implemented an environmental policy that incorporates environmental management system, environment impact, resources monitoring, monitoring, and reporting. While conducting businesses with external parties, we also access their environmental management system.
Q: How have the new agreements being signed at COP26 affected Green Cement both in terms of the current projects your Green Cement is involved in as well as the new projects you will be taking on?
A: Green cement is not just a fancy name we use for marketing, it’s a reality and the main pillar of the company’s vision by producing green products like the GGBS which is a by-product from steel manufacturers.
We buy, grind, and sell it to our Ready-Mix concrete customers. They substitute our green products for OPC (ordinary Portland Cement) which helps reduce the CO2 emissions in the building process.
It also has a positive impact on reducing the buildings’ CO2 emissions over the years, as each building is releasing CO2 emissions every year after completion.
Another step we are starting to take to reduce further our low emissions is by shifting partially to solar power and using gas instead of diesel in the production process.
This is in line with the urgency to upscale ambitions of reaching all goals of the Paris Agreement 2030 emission reduction target, which is to reach Net Zero by mid-century.
Q: Where do you see the country in terms of its Cement needs by 2030 and 2050? Where do you feel you expect to see the biggest disruptions in the cement industry that are likely to expedite the industry towards its SDGs.
A: UAE has an overcapacity when it comes to clinker and cement manufacturing, so I believe this is a golden opportunity for the Government to interfere positively to reduce capacities that will reduce CO2 emissions at the same time.
There are a lot of successful examples all around the world which can be adopted i.e., not renewing licenses for plants that are over 20 years or giving them an ultimatum to reduce their CO2 emission to meet the government targets otherwise they might be shut down, or implementing a CO2 tax on the construction sector.
3D construction companies are a good example where they can disrupt the industry and expedite towards its SDGs.
Q: What do you feel are the country’s biggest obstacles towards satisfying the construction needs of the region sustainably? Can you talk about some recent and/or headline projects of Green Cement that act as case studies to demonstrate this?
A: The roadmap requires policymakers, governments, and multilateral organizations to play their part in supporting a circular economy and the development of new technologies. The roadmap includes reducing the use of fossil fuels and clinker.
Most of the cement companies are using coal to fire up their kilns, therefore, I believe the government should start putting pressure on them to shift to natural gas instead and start putting taxes on CO2 emissions like it’s happening in Europe and other parts of the world which will force them to speed up the change to gas.
The concrete code and details of usage of materials should be unified in all Emirates, particularly the one used in Dubai as it has more bypass product in the mix, reducing CO2 emissions.
The project that GCF is most excited about is the Etihad Railways. The rail will be a new mode of transport for both for both passengers and goods across the GCC.
This is an example of a project which will be connecting the 7 countries of the GCC and where a green product like GGBS (produced by us) is heavily used. GCF supplies GGBS to different Ready-Mix concrete customers, which further supply the concrete to different parts of the railway project in different Emirates.
We are very excited about the project and our contribution.
Such a project is the start of a long-needed unification process that will bring not only the UAE together with the GCC but perhaps one day the rest of the Middle East as well. Furthermore, the Etihad Railways will have a huge impact on reducing the CO2 emissions in the whole region.
This is a huge step towards cutting the CO2 emissions not only in the UAE but across the GCC region.
From the graph, it can be concluded that GCF has a relatively low carbon footprint with all our energy management and sustainability initiatives in place.
As the clinkerisation process has a very high carbon footprint, the addition of GGBC reduces the overall CO2 emission of concrete. Furthermore, GCF gives added value to our clients, as in comparison to other grinding plants as we have lesser CO2 emissions on average
Q: Please tell us about your favourite city and movie of all time and why?
A: My favourite city apart from Dubai is Paris as I have part of my family living there and had completed my Masters from there. I have so many good memories in that city.
And The Pursuit Of Happiness is one of my favourite movies as it shows how humans can overcome any kind of struggle in life with perseverance to achieve whatever they dream of.