Key Pathways To Net Zero For Australian Cement And Concrete Identified

A new independent report titled ‘Decarbonisation Pathways for the Australian Cement and Concrete Sector’ released today confirms the Australian industry’s ambition of net zero carbon cement and concrete to Australian society by 2050 is achievable.

Click here to download the full Media Release (PDF)

VDZ was recently commissioned, based on its international research credentials, to undertake this study to better understand the technologies and practices necessary to decarbonise Australian cement and concrete.¹²

In early October 2021, the Australian cement and concrete industry declared its ambition to deliver net zero carbon cement and concrete by 2050, and the VDZ report demonstrates this outcome can be achieved with the assistance of the full value chain.

The VDZ report notes “The Australian cement and concrete sector has a long history of reducing its CO2 emissions having delivered a 25 per cent reduction since 2000. However, the challenge of decarbonising by 2050 will require significant regulatory, structural and behavioural changes across all segments of the cement and concrete value chain.”

The ability to deliver lower carbon cement and concrete will require significant financial investment to research, pilot and adopt a range of technologies.

“It will also require a transition to a ‘market pull’ environment through leadership in government and private sector procurement policies and changes in regulation to safely promote the uptake of lower carbon products” according to the VDZ report.

The Australian cement and concrete sector understands the long term economic and societal benefits of harnessing the eight identified decarbonisation pathways and key future research requirements identified in the report. These are:

  • Zero emission electricity and transport
  • Innovation through design and construction
  • Further innovation in concrete
  • Increased use of supplementary cementitious materials in concrete
  • New CO2 efficient cements
  • Alternative fuels and green hydrogen
  • Accounting for concrete to uptake CO2 (recarbonation)
  • Capture remaining CO2 (CCUS)

 The sector realises the challenge ahead will require significant financial investment and policy change to support the transition. However, the VDZ Report released today demonstrates that the transition is possible. 

As a trade exposed sector, a fundamental requirement will be that the transition does not lead to undermining the competitiveness of the Australian cement and concrete manufacturing base. 

The Australian cement and concrete sector is now developing engagement plans based on the identified pathways to implement the key recommendations of the report and are committed to reviewing progress on a regular basis. 

Click here to download the full Media Release (PDF)

 Media enquiries: 

Margie Thomson
Chief Executive, Cement Industry Federation
M: 0418 290 058 

Ken Slattery
Chief Executive, Cement, Concrete and Aggregates Australia
M: 0417 497 559 

Warren South
Chief Executive, SmartCrete CRC
M: 0427 169899 


 1. VDZ is a world-renowned research centre, providing practical and quality-oriented joint research and services in the field of cement and concrete. 

2. Financial and in-kind contributions have been provided by the Cement Industry Federation, Cement, Concrete and Aggregates Australia, SmartCrete CRC and the RACE for 2030 CRC.  

Working Smarter with the turnKey CRC application

SmartCrete CRC is one of the smallest Collaborative Research Centres awarded grant funding in the last five CRC rounds and is run by a small staff of eight full and part time employees.

Two of the keys to efficiency and productivity success for the SmartCrete CRC are the application of turnKey CRC Project Reporting software and the enabling of project leads to input and manage their projects online.

Click here to download the full Media Release (PDF)

Project Efficiency

Initially developed by Autism CRC, the turnKey application has been further enhanced by the SmartCrete CRC team to provide an end-to-end project management systems that allows project leads to manage the entire project lifecycle from project proposal, evaluation, approval and execution, to progress reporting and project milestone tracking. Additional features allow for project budget management, automated reporting against the Commonwealth milestones and project specific summary dashboards.

Research Office Portfolio Management

For our Academic partners turnKey provides a simple method for the Research Office (RO) to oversee their portfolio of projects against their budgets, project portfolio objectives and staffing allocations through dashboards that leverage powerful data visualistion tools.

Effective Relationship and Communication Management

turnKey is built on Salesforce’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform and allows SmartCrete CRC to establish multi-level contacts through partner organisations based on their involvement in projects and decision making.

This functionality allows SmartCrete to maintain effective communications with partner organisations through an integrated marketing plan that allows the use of email for CRC updates, project outcomes, shared learnings and important key dates.

Click here to download the full Media Release (PDF)

Partner Profile
Dr Salwan Al-Assafi

Dr Salwan Al-Assafi

General Manager R&D
Paintback


Tell us a bit about yourself, your career path, interests, and hobbies.

I am a Materials Scientist. I received my postgraduate degrees from the University of Florida in the US. I have a broad industrial R&D background in areas ranging from construction materials to high-performance composite materials. My career journey has been anything but boring, working in a range of industries in various countries. My journey started in New Jersey, followed by Auckland and Dubai, before ending up in Melbourne. I have over 15 year’s experience in managing R&D programs, with an emphasis on processing and performance of materials. As for hobbies I enjoy biking, nature walks, and travelling.

Tell us about your role at Paintback.

My role at Paintback is to lead the R&D Team and manage the R&D portfolio.  An important aspect in my role is to identify and secure new strategic R&D opportunities to deliver our stewardship outcomes.  I am also active in looking for opportunities to collaborate with various industries and academic institutions that share in our purpose.

Who is Paintback and what makes them unique?

Paintback is an industry-led initiative designed to divert unwanted paint and packaging from ending in landfill and vital waterways.  Paintback is driven by the Australian paint industry and the major companies that supply around 90% of all the architectural and decorative (A&D) paint sold in Australia. Paintback’s founding members are Dulux, Haymes, PPG, Resene and Wattyl.  What makes our stewardship unique is the strong focus on R&D programs to achieve our objectives in creating a net environmental benefit and deliver sustainable solutions for our material streams.

What is the main driver for Paintback’s partnership with SmartCrete CRC?

Our aim is to develop processes and procedures to upcycle our water-based paint into admixture for concrete in non-structural applications. SmartCrete is a great vehicle to help us achieve our objectives by facilitating collaboration with industry and academic experts in the field of concrete materials.  SmartCrete also offers a comprehensive approach from proof of concept to commercialisation, and provides access to partners throughout the supply chain.

How is your research with SmartCrete CRC able to facilitate in helping Paintback achieve their business goals?

SmartCrete is providing access to industrial and academic partners with technical expertise and state-of-the-art equipment to help Paintback achieve its circular economy goals by developing highly valuable applications for the concrete industry.

Describe some of the problems or challenges you are trying to solve in the industry?

Paintback is at the forefront of developing circular economy solutions from used paint that would benefit the concrete industry and reduce reliance on virgin materials in Australia. 

Success requires an effort from all those who participate in and influence the supply and value chains, to play their part in helping to keep these valuable resources circulating for as long as possible.  It requires a different way of thinking, to problem solve and see many materials that currently go to waste, as something valuable and worth reusing.

In my experience, the concrete and infrastructure sector are early adopters of this role and through SmartCrete we can develop a robust, evidence-based, specification for circular products that meet their needs.

What changes are you aiming to achieve with your work in the industry that will impact the lives of future generations?

Paintback’s vision is to take used paint’s colourful past to a brighter future of innovative re-use. 

For example, the adoption of water-based paint as an admixture will contribute to the concrete industry’s drive for a green and sustainable future.

We hope our leadership will inspire others to take responsibility for their products and help decouple our future growth and standard of living from consuming the earth’s finite and precious resources.

New Appointments at SmartCrete CRC

Since establishment in June 2020, SmartCrete CRC has worked to promote scientific and engineering research for Australia’s concrete industry, including developments within the concrete supply chain and associated industries.

Click here to download the full Media Release (PDF)

We are proud to announce the appointment of two new staff members, vital to the realisation of our vision to fully develop integrated product development and systems capability.

Professor Vute Sirivivatnanon has joined SmartCrete CRC as Research Director. Dr Sirivivatnanon is well known to the cement and concrete industry working for major industry research institutions such as CSIRO and Cement, Concrete and Aggregates. More recently, he is currently the Professor for Concrete Engineering at the University of Technology, Sydney. He will strengthen our research strategy ensuring the realisation of strong, relevant research.

Mr Alan Leow will also join SmartCrete CRC as Commercialisation Manager. Alan has also extensive experience in the construction industry, having worked with Boral in Asia and most recently in the precast concrete industry in Western Australia with BGC Precast. Alan will be responsible for developing our intellectual property and commercialisation strategy.

Dr Warren South, CEO of SmartCrete CRC welcomed this injection of expertise:

“SmartCrete CRC welcomes Vute and Alan to our team. Their expertise and familiarity with the concrete construction industry issues and challenges will strengthen our ability to deliver a strong and relevant research and commercialisation portfolio”


Click here to download the full Media Release (PDF)

For further information please contact:

Dr Warren South
Chief Executive Officer
SmartCrete CRC

SmartCrete CRC at Concrete 2021 conference

SmartCrete CRC will be hosting a conference session at the upcoming Concrete Institute of Australia’s Biennial National Conference, Concrete 2021 on 7 September 2021 from 3.45 pm to 5.00 pm. This year, due to CoVID restrictions, the conference is being held virtually from 5-8 September allowing a greater number of delegates to attend from the comfort of home.

Click here to read the full Media Release (PDF)

The SmartCrete CRC session will include a presentation on the organisation’s progress by the CEO, Dr Warren South, three presentations by representatives of industry and academic partners of the CRC, and a facilitated discussion answering your questions on SmartCrete CRC and to allow the organisation to harvest ideas informing SmartCrete CRC’s research portfolio.

Dr Warren South, CEO of SmartCrete CRC commented:

“SmartCrete CRC welcomes this opportunity to engage with its stakeholders through the largest concrete conference in Australia. We look forward to discussing our progress in a busy first year as well as hearing the issues and opportunities from the concrete community”

SmartCrete CRC is actively operating with the goal to ensure the long-term viability of vital existing and future concrete infrastructure through improvement in cost, application, and sustainability. The organisation achieves this by facilitating connections between industry and academia to generate research projects then funding those projects to realise the value of this research to the Australian concrete eco-system.

SmartCrete CRC does this by providing contacts, connections, and funding for successful research projects to address the various issues and challenges for concrete, especially in its application in infrastructure.

Registration for the conference is still open at https://ciaconference.com.au/registration/

For further information please contact:

Dr Warren South
Chief Executive Officer
SmartCrete CRC

Partner Profile
Prof. Sujeeva Setunge

Prof. Sujeeva Setunge

Associate Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research and Innovation, STEM college
RMIT University (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology)


Where is your hometown? Where do you live now?

I am originally from Colombo, Sri Lanka and relocated to Melbourne to commence my Ph.D in Civil Engineering at Monash University. I Live in Melbourne, Victoria.

Where did you go to university and your field of study and most importantly why did you choose that field?

I completed my first degree B.Sc (Eng) in Civil Engineering at University of Moratuwa Sri Lanka and completed my Ph.D at Monash University. I love Civil & Structural Engineering as a field, due to the creativity and accomplishment associated with the profession. I worked as a Civil Engineer prior to embarking on a pathway to an academic career. As an academic my passion has been in research activities which deliver clear outcomes to the end users.

Who do you work for now? What has been a highlight of your career?

I work for RMIT University, one of the largest dual sector Universities in Australia. A highlight in my career is commercialising the infrastructure asset management software platform developed through research conducted over a 10 year period, which is now implemented by many organisations in Australia and being implemented in South East Asia with funding from the Asian Development Bank. A more recent highlight is leading a consortium of 9 academic institutions and 32 industry partners to secure an ARC industrial transformation research hub on transformation of reclaimed resources to engineered materials and solutions for a circular economy.

What do you most enjoy about your research and role at RMIT?

I enjoy exploring cross disciplinary research to deliver solutions for complex research problems. Currently I am interested in digital transformation of the Civil infrastructure sector and developing sustainable construction materials incorporating reclaimed resources.

My current research leadership role offers a fantastic opportunity to inspire and lead academics to engage with industry stakeholders and create diverse mechanisms of engagement. I thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to drive large and sustained collaborations with end users to translate academic research through strategic academic-industry partnerships.

Tell us why and how you first got involved with Concrete?

The complexity of designing structures with concrete has sparked my interest as an undergraduate. My first job as a Civil Engineer was managing a construction site of a reinforced concrete water retaining structure where I learnt the challenges of moving from theory to practice. My interest in concrete led to selection of a Ph.D research project on structural properties of very high strength concrete, which developed a failure criterion and a constitutive model for concrete with strengths over 100 MPa. Designing safe infrastructure with new concrete materials, which are not covered by design standards is my area of interest and strength.  During my career I have worked on many research projects and have developed and delivered academic programs on design of reinforced and prestressed concrete structures.

What do you find most challenging about working in the industry?

In some developed economies, the pathway to translation is fast. In Australia the concrete and construction industry is still very conservative. One issue I find challenging is the long lead time for innovations to be translated into practice. A solution to this is co-creation and co-design of the solutions with industry and creating an evidence base to convince the end users, which is offered through collaborations such as Smartcrete CRC.

If there was one thing you could bring to life to help shape the future of infrastructure, what would it be?

Creative and smart design of materials and structures to enable self-monitoring for optimised maintenance, flexibility of reuse, ease of deconstruction and resource recovery leading to circular solutions.

SmartCrete’s objective is to help guarantee the long-term viability of crucial concrete infrastructure in Australia, what are your thoughts on this?

Concrete being the second largest commodity used in the world, the SmartCrete CRC is addressing an urgent need of the concrete industry in supporting research towards sustainable materials and intelligent infrastructure. Co-creation opportunities provided by the partnerships of industry and academia will open up shorter pathways to impact.

Anything else you would like to add?

The SmartCrete CRC leadership and the researchers have the required credentials to deliver the expected outcomes. I am delighted to be part of the SmartCrete community.

Partner Profile
Harish Srivastava

Harish Srivastava

Director Civil Engineering
Transport for NSW


Where is your hometown? Where do you live now?

I was born and raised in Uttar Pradesh, India. While completing my civil engineering degree I was selected to work in a public sector company, WAPCOS as a Trainee Engineer in Delhi. I worked with WAPCOS until 2005 and was promoted to Deputy Chief Engineer. During this period I developed port planning and maritime engineering skills through self-study and on-the job training. In 2005, I decided to move to New Zealand to take a position in New Plymouth in North Island where I worked for three years. New Plymouth is the most beautiful place I have ever lived, one can go hiking and surfing on same day. In 2009, I moved to Australia and have lived here since.

Where did you go to university and your field of study and most importantly why did you choose that field?

I completed my Bachelor Degree in Civil Engineering from MMMEC, Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, India and masters in Structural Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, India.

At 10 years of age, I received my first lesson in construction. During my summer vacations, I helped my dad in managing construction for the family home in a remote village in India. Every little task given to me was a game for me as I often helped tradesmen in brick laying, mortar making, curing etc. I have no doubt that this fun exercise sowed seeds of civil engineering for me.

In high school I had high level exposure to civil engineering where I prepared a project about urban design of a township under guidance of my brother who was studying civil engineering at the time. This project exposed me to key urban design and civil engineering principles. This project after competing at district level, was selected for displaying at a regional level interschool competition. The small scale exposure I received to planning, design and construction motivated me to pursue a career in civil engineering.

Who do you work for now? What has been a highlight of your career?

I work for Transport for NSW (TfNSW). Prior to joining TfNSW, I worked for a number of consultancy organisations in Australia, New Zealand and India and received an opportunity to travel to a number of iconic locations in Australia, New Zealand, India, Africa and Asia-Pacific. I worked on a number of high profile projects including Rooty Hill station upgrade and multistorey carpark, Barangaroo ferry hub, Coal Terminal-3 at Newcastle Port, NSW, Wheatstone LNG Terminal, Western Australia, Saldanha port upgrade, South Africa, Port Taranaki upgrade, New Zealand, the container terminal at Port Nauru, etc.

What do you most enjoy about your role at Transport NSW?

Currently, I am working as the Director of Civil Engineering. This role provides me an opportunity to work on a variety of projects relating to railway infrastructure, carparks, maritime and other civil engineering projects. I also get the opportunity to work with project teams and delivery partners to adopt low emission/ recycled materials and to incorporate renewable energy infrastructures in projects for improving sustainability.

Tell us why and how you first got involved with Concrete?

Immediately after graduating, I gained an opportunity to work on planning and design of cement terminals at Muldwarka, Gujrat and Panvel, Maharashtra, India. This project enabled me to understand design of reinforced concrete piles, headstocks, precast beams for berths/ approach jetty and plain cement concrete for tetrapod armour units for breakwater. From this project, I learnt about the effect of seawater exposure on durability of concrete structures and various strategies for improving durability.

What do you find most challenging about working in the industry?

I think developing a lower carbon footprint/ sustainable concrete mix while complying with the requirements for strength, durability and workability is the most challenging task. This task becomes even more challenging due to limited guidance offered by Australian Standards for use of recycled and low emission materials requiring a task based research.

If there was one thing you could bring to life to help shape the future of infrastructure, what would it be?

Probably a software or tool, capable of assessing the effect of addition of virgin/ recycled materials and admixtures to a concrete mix whilst predicting concrete performance parameters such as strength, durability, workability and carbon footprint of the concrete mix, will benefit the future infrastructure projects. Such a tool will enable to develop a fit for purpose sustainable concrete mix to suit requirement for an individual structure.

SmartCrete’s objective is to help guarantee the long-term viability of crucial concrete infrastructure in Australia, what are your thoughts on this?

SmartCrete CRC is evaluating a few research projects for use in industrial and non-industrial wastes in concrete mixes to improve sustainability and the carbon footprint of concrete while meeting performance requirements. These projects when complete, are likely to help in mitigating waste management issues.

SmartCrete CRC Welcomes Paintback Limited as Core Partner

Since establishment in June 2020, SmartCrete CRC has worked to promote scientific and engineering research forging the way for Australia’s concrete industry, including developments within the concrete supply chain and associated industries and today we are delighted to announce Paintback Limited as a new core partner to SmartCrete CRC.

Click here to read the full Media Release (PDF)

Dr Warren South, CEO of SmartCrete CRC welcomes the partnership.

SmartCrete CRC is pleased to welcome Paintback Limited as a core partner organisation. Partners such as Paintback will assist us in developing our research portfolio to inform the future sustainability of concrete infrastructure.

Paintback’s ambition is to create a stronger circular economy for the materials it collects and lay the groundwork for developing new markets.

Paint already plays a role in circular economic outcomes through preserving and refurbishing infrastructure. Paintback is exploring how it can extend that through putting unwanted paint into new uses.

From trialling recovered paint products in pedestrian footpaths to research testing paint components as new additions to concrete, the national paint recovery scheme Paintback and alliances of Australian scientists and engineers are on the hunt for new ways to extend the circular economy for paint.

“Australians buy more than 100 million litres of paint every year. About 5 per cent of that is surplus to requirements and needs a safe disposal path. The SmartCrete partnership will help harness innovation to create more sustainable infrastructure while extending the life of unwanted paint” says Karen Gomez, Paintback’s chief executive.”


Click here to read the full Media Release (PDF)

For further information please contact:

Dr Warren South
Chief Executive Officer
SmartCrete CRC
Email: warren.south@smartcretecrc.com.au

SmartCrete CRC project funding announced

SmartCrete CRC is delighted to announce the funding of the inaugural project “Recycled Waste in Concrete for Municipal Applications” in collaboration with industry and research partners OPV (Office of Projects Victoria) and RMIT University.

Click here to read the full Media Release (PDF)

Since establishment in June 2020, SmartCrete CRC has worked to promote scientific and engineering research for Australia’s concrete industry, including developments within the concrete supply chain and associated industries.

All SmartCrete CRC projects are driven by the needs of industry partners and the end-users with whom they engage.

This project covers a range of areas and will investigate and implement new applications of domestic and industrial waste materials (plastics, rubber, crusher dust, industrial by-products) in the concrete construction industry. It will provide long term environmental and economic benefits to key stakeholders – supply-chain, government, and asset owners.

The project is a strategic response to the demand-supply imbalance in the Victorian infrastructure and waste recovery sector with a primary focus on councils and local municipalities.

Concrete production in Victoria relies on aggregate and cement sourced from natural and finite sand and rock deposits. With the availability of these materials declining, alternative sources of sands and aggregates are urgently required to meet forecasted consumption.

Dr Warren South, CEO of SmartCrete CRC commends the funding.

“We are proud to be funding a project that is the first to “turn the sod” on practical research under the SmartCrete CRC brand and delivers value to both concrete infrastructure and the Australian community”.

Professor Rebecca Gravina RMIT University said:

“Finding new uses for our waste is a vital part of the transition to a circular economy. We hope this exciting collaboration will have a lasting impact, by bringing leading-edge materials technologies for concrete construction to address the performance requirements needed by our industry partners.”

Cressida Wall, Chief Executive, Office of Projects Victoria (OPV) said:

“OPV is pleased to support and promote innovation and excellence in construction which is why we are backing this important project. Recycled waste is an untapped resource and its successful application in municipal infrastructure offers a potential game-changing solution.”

The project represents the first to be funded by the Commonwealth, industry and research partners to deliver on the organisation’s goal of guaranteeing the long-term viability of concrete infrastructure in Australia.

Click here to read the full Media Release (PDF)

For further information please contact:

Dr Warren South
Chief Executive Officer
SmartCrete CRC
Email: warren.south@smartcretecrc.com.au

SmartCrete CRC announces 8 projects endorsed for funding

SmartCrete CRC is proud to announce 8 projects have been conditionally endorsed for funding following the SmartCrete CRC Board meeting held Thursday, 17 June 2021.

Click here to read the full Media Release (PDF)

Conditions are required to be met before the projects can be approved for funding and the SmartCrete CRC team are working to assist project partners with meeting these requirements. The Board meeting also accepted revisions to the Project Funding Guidelines with modifications to be communicated in due course.

The 8 projects will run up to four years and involve industry partners with support by our research providers. The program represents a cash investment of almost $5.2 million of Commonwealth funds by the CRC and partner contributions.

Project Partners include: Ash Development Association of Australia (ADAA), Australasian Slag Association, Australasian Pozzolan Association, University of Sydney, University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Macquarie University, Paintback, Hawks Excavation (VIC) Pty Ltd, Stretford Civil Constructions Pty Ltd, Transport for NSW (TfNSW), Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), University of Newcastle (UoN), Holcim (Australia) Pty Ltd, Curtin University, Australian Engineered Fasteners and Anchors Council (AEFAC), Swinburne University of Technology (SUT).

This is an exciting step in the development of industry led solutions for Australian concrete infrastructure.”
Dr Warren South, CEO
SmartCrete CRC.

Click here to read the full Media Release (PDF)

For further information please contact:

Dr Warren South
Chief Executive Officer
SmartCrete CRC
Email: warren.south@smartcretecrc.com.au