In this first-of-its-kind initiative in India, UltraTech Cement, the cement flagship company of Aditya Birla Group (ABG), transported a phosphogypsum consignment of 57,000 metric tons (MT) via inland and coastal waterways. The bulk cargo carrier journeyed from Paradeep port in Odisha to the jetty of UltraTech Cement’s integrated cement unit, Gujarat Cement Works (GCW), located in Kovaya of Amreli district in Gujarat.

Legacy stock of phosphogypsum, a byproduct of phosphatic fertiliser plants, is estimated to be about 70 million metric tons (MMT) in India. Given that the total cement production in the country during FY23 was 400 MMT, the cement industry has the potential to use about 16 MMT of phosphogypsum annually.  

As stated by KC Jhanwar, Managing Director, UltraTech Cement, the cement industry ‘plays a pivotal role in driving the circular economy in India through the use of industrial and municipal waste in cement manufacturing.’ The use of phosphogypsum in place of mineral gypsum as an alternative material in cement manufacturing will help reduce dependence on mining of mineral gypsum in the country. This will also save precious forex for India as mineral gypsum is primarily imported.

The reutilisation of phosphogypsum, which is otherwise disposed of as industrial waste, has been identified as a key part of the circular economy vision enunciated by the Government of India. The use of large quantities of industrial waste and municipal waste in cement manufacturing not only helps to substantially reduce the burden on landfill but also reduces potential greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from conventional waste-disposal methods such as incineration.

Further, the initiative of UltraTech in transporting phosphogypsum through inland and coastal waterways has demonstrated the use of ‘multimodal supply chain’ as a cost-viable and safe transport option for other cement companies to replicate.