Boral to go net zero by 2050

Boral has announced net zero commitments aligned to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).

Boral will reduce absolute Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 46% by 2030 and will reduce relevant Scope 3 emissions by 22%, both from a 2019 baseline.

The targets commit Boral to net zero emissions by no later than 2050, aligned with the most ambitious aim of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

Boral will hit these targets through actions in five areas, including transitioning to 100% renewable energy and increasing the use of alternative fuels at its Berrima Cement kiln and improving energy efficiency.

"We're working on all of them in parallel, it's just that some of them work with a longer gestation period," said Boral CEO and managing director Zlatko Todorcevski. "If I think about what we can do in the very short term, it includes everything from making modifications to our Berrima Cement Kiln, which currently runs on 20-25% alternative fuels and the rest is coal."

Todorcevski noted that when constructed, the Berrima kiln was constructed, it could only process certain alternative fuel sources such as timber, but with modifications, it will be able to burn fuel sources including plastics that will boost the alternative fuel mix up to 50%. The modifications are expected to occur in the next 18-24 months, Todorcevski said.

Other moves, such as switching to 100% renewable electricity for operations outside of the kiln, will happen by 2025, Todorcevski said.

Boral will also address the carbon intensity of cement products by optimising the energy efficiency of its Berrima Cement kiln and accelerating adoption of its lower carbon concrete product range, by addressing emissions in transport by optimising supply chain logistics and routes, and exploring alternative fuel fleet options such as hydrogen, by prioritising lower carbon intensity suppliers, and by exploring and testing emerging carbon capture use and storage (CCUS) technologies.

Boral is currently developing a pilot scale CCUS project at Berrima to improve the quality of recycled concrete, masonry and steel slag aggregates, for which it has received up to $2.4 million from the federal government's CCUS Development Fund.

"CCUS is a proven technology, but it hasn't been proven at scale," Todorcevski said. "We're doing work on a pilot program, but that could take five to 10 years plus. That one is maybe beyond 2030 in terms of having a massive impact."

Boral operates an internal Innovation Factory, and last year announced that the company and the University of Technology Sydney have formed a five-year partnership to accelerate product innovation, and the research, development and commercialisation of low carbon concrete.

The partnership has resulted in the establishment of the UTS Boral Centre for Sustainable Building at UTS Tech Lab.

The transition of heavy mobile equipment, through electrification and/or hydrogen fuel is another target that has a longer time horizon, Todorcevski said.

The targets will most likely be integrated into executive remuneration.

"We haven't announced the approach we're going to take on that, but it's fair to assume that this is a conversation that the board is having, the remuneration committee is having, and it's likely to have this built in going forward," Todorcevski said.

"Frankly, I think it's good business and the right thing to do. Cement is one of the highest carbon emitters in the world, and my position is we want to take a leadership role on an aggressive timeframe to take carbon out of the system. It not only benefits us, it proves what the industry can do."

Read more: Boralnet zeroUniversity of Technology SydneyZlatko Todorcevski