Rock to Road

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Getting serious about emissions

Getting in line with American standards


July 15, 2016
By Andrew Macklin

July 15, 2016 – I don’t like to admit that the United States is doing something better than we are, but after all seven Canadian teams missed the NHL playoffs this year, the discussion seems pretty appropriate.

There is one very important aspect of the aggregates and road construction industry that our neighbours to the south do better than us, and that’s regulating emissions.

I know, the regulations aren’t in place in this country so there is no need yet to worry about buying Tier 4 machines and teaching the team about DEF and SCR. Yet.

But that needs to change, and I think we all know it. Some of you are already making the switch to machines that have Tier 4 interim and Tier 4 Final emissions technology built in. Good on you. But others either haven’t grasped the need, don’t want to make the investment or just refuse to deal with the “hassle” that comes with the new emissions technology.

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I didn’t think that latter still existed here in Canada, but had my eyes opened to it during my trip to the Atlantic Heavy Equipment Show in Moncton in April, where I overheard several contractors asking for Tier 3 machines because they wanted nothing to do with Tier 4.

And yet, while some still resist the official and inevitable transition to Tier 4 interim and Tier 4 Final emissions technology in Canada, companies are already talking about what comes next. At bauma in Munich, officials from John Deere and Cummins both brought up the issue publicly, discussing what Stage 5 might look like as the next generation of technology rolls through the R&D phase and into heavy equipment across the next three-to-five years.

This isn’t the only room for improvement in emissions technology. For decades, our cement manufacturers have relied on coal to produce power for its operations. The non-renewable carbon source sinks countless tons of carbon dioxide into our air and up to the atmosphere, which could be unnecessary as alternatives are explored.

In looking to the future, understanding the need to reduce emissions, Lafarge has taken a role in experimenting with coal alternatives. At concrete plants across the country, the company has partnered with academic institutions to begin experimenting with alternative and renewable fuels to test the viability of the materials for energy production, and the quality of emissions they generate. The list of materials tested includes construction waste, roofing shingles and K-cups, just to name a few. (For our feature story on the progress being made by Lafarge on this, turn to page 12.)

Showing leadership on the issue of emissions is critical in this country, especially at a time when the federal government has begun discussions on the implementation of a nationwide carbon tax. Rather than be left scrambling to find ways to cut down on emissions, the companies already adding renewable fuels to their operations, along with the ones already investing in Tier 4 emissions technology, are showing the way by working out the initial kinks of new technologies to provide a roadmap for others to follow. As more companies come on board with their own initiatives to cut emissions, they can look to the industry leaders to learn the right way to do it.

Emissions reduction legislation in Canada is not a matter of if, but when. If you haven’t already, it’s time to follow the leader and make a plan to get serious about emissions.