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Cement Circular Economy Could be Worth €110B by 2050, Says McKinsey

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Global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company projects that circular models for the production and reuse of concrete and cement could become a €110 billion industry by 2050.

This would mitigate up to two billion tons of CO₂ emissions while decarbonizing up to 80% of total cement and concrete emissions.

The increase in net value will largely be driven by carbon, capture, storage and usage from the production of cement and concrete, as well as the reuse of energy from waste material and the recirculation of materials and minerals across the built environment. Additional drivers of circular technology adoption include rising CO₂ costs, landfill costs and decarbonization subsidies.

“Applying circular principles to cement and concrete would not only help decarbonize the built environment but generate enormous economic value. The cement industry is perfectly positioned to create closed loops for CO₂, materials and minerals, and energy. We estimate each of these circular technologies will be value-positive by 2050, while some are already more profitable than today’s typical solutions. This will also drastically reduce global emissions and 30-40% of the world’s solid waste created through construction and maintenance of the built environment,” commented Jukka Maksimainen, Global Co-Leader of McKinsey’s Global Energy & Materials Practice.

With global demand for cement and concrete increasing tri-fold over the past 20 years, decarbonizing the built environment has become critical while at the same time offering tangible benefits for the industry.

McKinsey suggests two key actions that can be implemented to take advantage of the opportunities associated with the circular economy, namely, engaging in circular business-building and utilizing circular technologies to react to the evolving financial risk.

“Cement and other industry players should engage in circular business-building and use circular technologies to react to evolving financial risks,” stated Sebastian Reiter, Partner at McKinsey’s Global Energy & Materials, adding that, “The total value at risk from rising CO₂ prices and landfill costs could reach approximately €210 billion by 2050 and this will significantly accelerate uptake of circular technologies. For example, our research shows that technologies utilizing CO₂ can create positive economic value at carbon prices of approximately €80 percent of CO₂, while using construction waste as aggregates for concrete production avoids landfill costs.”

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Charné Hollands

Charné Hollands

Charné Hollands is the Deputy Editor at Energy Capital & Power. She holds a Higher Certificate in Professional Photography and Masters in Media Studies from the University of Cape Town. Charné writes content for ECP's website and events as well as co-authored African Energy Chamber: Road to Recovery.