These startups are trying to reduce the massive carbon footprint of concrete
At a concrete plant in San Francisco, the concrete loaded into ready-mix trucks now includes captured CO2. The plant, owned by Central Concrete, a northern California business unit of U.S. Concrete, recently adopted technology from CarbonCure, one of a handful of startups trying to address one of the world’s biggest sources of emissions. The process of making cement, which is used like glue to hold concrete together, is the source of around 8% of the CO2 pumped into the atmosphere globally. If the industry were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter after China and the United States–and as countries like China rapidly build, the problem is also growing.
Central Concrete, which has 12 plants in the Bay Area, had already been working to tackle its carbon footprint before partnering with CarbonCure. “Everything we do, we develop around low carbon mix designs,” says Herb Burton, regional vice president and general manager of U.S. Concrete. By using materials like fly ash in its mixes, for example, the company can cut the amount of cement it needs in half. But the new technology from the startup, which the concrete company now uses at seven of its locations, can help it push the carbon footprint down further.