Gerard van den Bosch (CEO) and Brechtje van den Beuken (CEO) used this as the starting point to set out their vision for Bosch Beton in the coming years. The aim is to be ready for the latest technology and products. The company is pushing forward towards a new cement-free generation of retaining walls in five steps. ‘We set this as our ultimate goal when we took over the family business and should certainly have succeeded in this by the time we retire’, said Brechtje van den Beuken with a smile.
Purchase of raw materials
Brechtje van den Beuken: ‘We want to offer our customers not only the certainty that, structurally, their retaining walls can last fifty to a hundred years, but also that the walls can be reused easily afterwards, because we’re working with clean raw materials. This is something that’s very much needed. In Europe, we consume around one cubic metre of concrete per resident per year, an amount that will certainly not decrease as the population grows. Available resources, however, will continue to decrease.’ Concrete has good structural properties and is an amazingly reliable building material with a very long service life. That makes it difficult to find good alternatives. One of the ways we make cement is by heating limestone in blast furnaces. This doesn’t only consume huge amounts of energy, but the carbon emissions are also high. It’s estimated that some 8% of global carbon emissions can be ascribed to cement production. So there are certainly gains to be made!
Hybrid interim variants
We’ll continue working on a more advanced hybrid variant in the coming years, so we can again reduce the amount of cement we use. The ultimate goal is to be able to produce cement-free as standard in the near future. And, according to Van den Beuken, that cement-free variant has already been ‘born’. ‘We have already produced the first cement-free geopolymer retaining walls, which are currently being used in a trial so we can monitor them. We’ll also be launching new pilot projects in the coming period. We’re ready to help customers and clients who want to innovate and become more sustainable, whether that’s in the form of a pilot project or not. Interim variants or customised mixtures incorporating more sustainable aggregates such as rubble granulate or ecogranulate are also among Bosch Beton’s options and are already available on request.’ Bosch Beton has made considerable investments to expand its concrete mixing plant in recent years, resulting in several customised projects that have an improved environmental cost indicator (ECI).
Completely cement-free structural retaining walls currently still fall outside construction standards, which is complicating the process. Based on the concrete agreement, work on the principles for the ‘Performance requirement of concrete’ is ongoing. This means it is already possible to provide various projects with structural geopolymer retaining walls. And according to Bosch Beton that’s really necessary: ‘We no longer have thirty years to work out all the standards and will need to start working more pragmatically. We need to look for new solutions based on vision and entrepreneurship, as well as demonstrate common sense when it comes to feasibility and affordability.’ And, of course, safety comes first at all times. ‘That’s why the mixtures are extensively tested in our own laboratory for both compressive and tensile strength, and acid corrosion. We may have to compromise slightly on compressive strength, but are making huge gains in terms of carbon emissions. We can fully guarantee our retaining walls’ structural strength and safety because that’s what it’s all about: producing a sustainable product that does what it is supposed to do for as long as possible. It’s not without reason that we offer a guarantee of up to 20 years on our products.’