GEOCYCLE, the waste management unit of Holcim Philippines, Inc., has co-processed more than 100,000 tons of waste last year, a 15% drop due to operational challenges caused by the pandemic, the listed firm said.

“The combined volumes of plastics and biomass co-processed as alternative fuels reached over 100,000 tons in 2020, but declined from 2019 levels by 15%,” Holcim told BusinessWorld in an e-mail on Tuesday.

The building solutions provider previously said that in 2019, it had used up over 170,000 tons of waste materials, including non-recyclable plastics, for its co-processing operations. It was able to avoid using coal for 38 days, which led to lower carbon emissions and reduced fuel costs that year.

Co-processing recovers mineral or energy properties of qualified waste materials while simultaneously producing cement, according to the Environment department’s “Guidelines on the Use of Alternative and Raw Materials in Cement Kilns.”

Holcim clarified that the process is different from waste incineration, which is not authorized for use in the country.

“With incineration, the process is meant to destroy waste by combustion, generating bottom ashes and fly ashes which are hazardous waste. Both wastes have to be managed and represent up to 20% of the initial stream,” Holcim said.

“With co-processing, the intent is to reuse suitable wastes from various streams which, after pre-treatment, become alternative fuel or alternative raw material with specific quality ranges [that are] compatible with the manufacturing of cement,” the firm added.

Holcim said that co-processing also allows the firm to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, contribute to the country’s waste management, and save raw materials while producing high-quality building materials.

In a Trade department webinar in March, Geocycle Project Manager Jon Alan M. Cuyno said the unit had reduced the amount of plastic waste that would otherwise end up in landfills, rivers and oceans.

On its website, Geocycle said that it has co-processing facilities located at La Union, Bulacan, Misamis Oriental, and Davao.

Holcim posted a net profit of P1.04 billion in the fourth quarter, lower by 39.4% from a year earlier due to a drop in sales. Its net sales slid by 26.2% to P7.24 billion from October to December.

Holcim shares at the local bourse inched down by 1.58% or nine centavos to close at P5.59 apiece on Tuesday. — Angelica Y. Yang