Process Materiality Analysis: Ceramic Pipes Segment
The Value Chain for the Ceramic Pipes Segment
The most important steps in the value chain for the ceramic pipe segment are described in the following. The statements made apply to the Steinzeug-Keramo business unit.
Sustainability in the supply chain and in raw material sourcing
Ceramic pipes, like bricks, are made of clay, which Steinzeug-Keramo obtains from its own clay pit and from suppliers. Aggregates and additives are added to the base material in order to obtain the optimal material mix. The sustainability issues arising in the supply chain for ceramic pipes are similar to those of the brick segment. They include the security of regional clay supply, nature conservation and re-use concepts for depleted sites, protection of local residents from noise and dust, and ensuring the safety and health of employees; organic and carbonaceous components in the clay resulting in CO2 emissions in the downstream production process; and the avoidance of hazardous substances in aggregates and additives and in glazing material. Steinzeug-Keramo uses recycling material from its own plants and secondary raw materials from external sources in its production. All production plants recycle their internal ceramic waste and use recycled refractory material.
Environmental aspects in production
Ceramic pipes are first shaped, then dried, glazed (in an immersion bath) and fired. These processes are based on the use of energy from renewable sources and from natural gas. Given the CO2 emissions thus generated, Steinzeug-Keramo plants are subject to the European emissions trading system. The volume of CO2 emissions can be reduced through a further increase in the use of energy from renewable sources and further efficiency increases. Electricity demand can also be met from renewable sources. Raw material consumption can be reduced by minimizing scrap, recycling own ceramic waste, and designing products with a view to a sparing use of resources. Steinzeug-Keramo minimizes the consumption of raw materials by re-introducing all production waste into the production cycle. Water consumption in production can be lowered by means of close-cycle systems.
Social aspects in production
As in the brick segment, protecting employees against respirable crystalline silica is a major issue in the production of ceramic pipes as well. Other issues, such as safety and health of employees, business ethics and compliance, rank at a similar level of relevance for the entire Wienerberger Group and are described in the chapters “employees” and “social responsibility”.
Sustainability in period of use and at end-of-life
A long service life and high resistance are the technical requirements to be met by ceramic sewage pipes. Steinzeug-Keramo products are characterized, above all, by high abrasion resistance, bending tensile strength, frost resistance and high resistance against biological and chemical influences. Sewage pipes should require little maintenance and be easy to repair. Products by Steinzeug-Keramo meet these requirements on account of their sturdiness and their vitrified surface. Their high-quality design ensures a long service life and helps to avoid repairs. Steinzeug-Keramo supports planning engineers and contractors through expert advice, online tools and visits to construction sites.
The range of innovative pipe products includes pipes certified by environmental product declarations and climate-neutral products. Accessories, such as talcum, lubricants, twocomponent adhesives, flanges and seals should not contain any potentially harmful chemical substances. Easy and complete recyclability at the end of the product’s service life is another property to be mentioned in this context. Products should be easy to separate from other construction debris in order to be recycled into the production process or to be re-used for other purposes. Waste water solutions for developing countries or heat recovery from waste water are potential issues for the future.