Frequently Asked Questions

Calculations & verifications: We walk the walk.

Lafarge Canada is committed to producing our construction products in the most environmentally and socially responsible manner. EcoLabels are our way of measuring and communicating that commitment. Thanks to organizations like the Global Cement and Concrete Association (GCCA), and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), we’ve been able to establish baselines and calculation methodologies for our products that demonstrate lower carbon footprint and circular economy achievements. Lafarge Canada has adhered to these industry standards as a baseline that apply to all members of the cement industry and that work as benchmarks for us to excel in our sustainability initiatives, such as our SBTi commitments.

What is sustainbility, and why is it important to Lafarge?

As the global leader in the construction materials industry, LafargeHolcim has both the opportunity and responsibility to make a positive difference. We want to lead in sustainability and set new standards. We want to transform the way our industry works and encourage the whole construction sector to play its part in addressing our planet’s biggest issues. To accelerate LafargeHolcims’ leadership in sustainability, Chief Sustainability Officer Magali Anderson was appointed in 2019 as part of the Executive Committee to lead our company’s sustainability efforts. In November 2020, LafargeHolcim further confirmed our sustainability leadership in the sector by pricing a EUR 850 million sustainability-linked bond and was the first global building materials company to sign the Business Ambition for 1.5oC pledge aligned with a net zero pathway.

How can consumers be assured that self-declared environmental claims are true and not greenwashed?

 EcoLabel declarations are made in accordance with ISO14021:2016 Environmental Labels and Declarations – Self-declared environmental claims (Type II environmental labelling).  Note that because the full Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology is not followed, these declarations are partial carbon footprints in accordance with ISO14067:2018 Greenhouse Gases – Carbon Footprint of Products – Requirements and guidelines for quantification.

These standards are a critical tool for manufacturers and businesses that want to communicate about the impact of their products on the environment in the best possible way. It provides a list of general requirements to be followed when using the standards, then defines selected terms commonly used in environmental claims, giving qualifications for their use, and describes a general evaluation and verification methodology for self-declared environmental claims. Learn more about ISO14021 here.

What do you mean you can replace cement? Isn’t cement an essential part of concrete?

Yes, cement has been a key ingredient in concrete for over 100 years. Cement undergoes a chemical change when it’s mixed with water, binding aggregates (gravel and sand) together, resulting in concrete, the world’s second-most used material after water. Due to its ubiquitous nature, durability and flexibility, there’s no changing the fact that the world uses a lot of concrete, and we’re going to keep using it for the foreseeable future. However, thanks to research and development, we can provide concrete with the same performance using a wide array of different options specifically aimed at reducing the carbon footprint.

Carbon footprint reductions are achieved in concrete through strategies such as the use of Portland Limestone Cement, Supplementary Cementitious Materials (SCMs), optimization of mix designs, and targeted admixture used to deliver the required performance, which are all aimed at reducing cement content in concrete. Examples of supplementary cementitious materials include ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBFS), a by-product of the iron industry and fly ash, a by-product of coal combustion in power plants. The good news: we’re taking waste products and using them, instead of disposing of them.

The utilization of waste also contributes to reductions in the carbon footprint of our cement manufacturing operations. Mineral waste sources are used to replace other virgin raw materials, and alternative fuels are used to replace traditional fuels such as coal. The production of Portland Limestone Cement and blended cement also provides significant reductions in the carbon footprint of cement manufacturing.

How do we know the declarations are accurate?

The first step is to establish a baseline to compare against.  For cements, the baseline is the GCCA reported clinker CO2 emission for Canada with a 92% clinker content in cement.  Clinker is the CO2 intensive active ingredient in cement. For ready mixed concrete and other concrete products, the baseline is the equivalent concrete strength achieved with a cement only mix design without admixture optimization.

The second step is to ensure common calculation methods are used for the baseline product and the product being compared.  This ensures that an apples-to-apples comparison is made and the relative differences compared to the baseline is what is communicated on Ecolabel.

For cement we base our EcoLabel calculations on the Scope 1 emissions for the manufacturing process as calculated using Global Cement and Concrete Association calculation methodologies.  Calculations are based on a full year production, and are renewed and internally verified annually.  These results are reported annually to the GCCA, which then publishes them in the GNR initiative. Further information on the GNR can be found here. Details on the calculation protocols can be found here.

For ready mixed concrete and other concrete products, we include all Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions for production of concrete where the information is available. For recycled content calculations, these are all based on the amount of recycled materials as a percentage of the total materials extracted and used in product manufacturing.

What about Environmental Product Declarations?

Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) measure a wide range of environmental impacts (for example, greenhouse gas emissions, toxic substances, habitat destruction, water impacts, ozone depletion, etc.) at every step of a product’s life cycle — from raw material extraction and processing, to manufacturing, and to distribution and disposal or recycling at end of life. Much like a nutrition label, they provide a standard way to communicate the environmental impact of available products and as such, are an important part of the life cycle assessment (LCA) of construction projects.

EPDs are an important tool not only for providing data and transparency on materials, but also to support complex integrated design processes that help maximize the role that materials like concrete can play in advanced design considerations, such as whole building LCA analysis.

We are working on developing product-specific EPDs across our product lines. When available, these will provide third-party verified environmental impact information for our products specific to the production location.