In recent years, Sabancı Group has taken serious steps in sustainability, technology and digitalization. Could you tell us a little bit about what you are doing here, namely the Construction Materials Group?
BURAK ORHUN– Our Community Promise as Sabancı Group; “We unite Turkey and the world with pioneering initiatives for a sustainable life.” Within the framework of this promise, we made a commitment to net zero emissions by 2050. We are the first group in Turkey to undertake this.
Now, as the Construction Materials Group, we are taking the necessary steps to ensure the sustainability transformation within the framework of this commitment.
All over the world, the construction and building materials industry is undergoing a great transformation. The end user wants to live in houses made of sustainable materials, and the construction is done within the framework of sustainability criteria. More importantly, it demands a sustainable office and home in its life cycle. Sustainability will continue to be our most important criterion in this framework, both in the cement we produce now and in other building materials products that we will add to the cement in the next period.
It is very difficult to think of all these processes separately from digitalization. Because the most important way to achieve sustainability is digitalization. Thanks to digitalization, we can achieve energy efficiency in cement production. We can use various alternative fuel raw materials more efficiently. So our work continues. Our contribution to our community promise; We will continue with our innovative works to make cement production more sustainable and with new sustainable products that we will add next to cement.
Material technologies are also developing very rapidly. Has there been a revolution in this field, and if so, where are we in this revolution? Where does Sabancı take part in this revolution? How do you prepare yourself?
BURAK ORHUN- That technological revolution, when you look at the last 50 years; Compared to other sectors, the construction sector is developing a little slower. However, there has been a significant break in the last 5 years. Sustainability and digitalization were the factors that enabled this break. The building materials industry has had to make this transformation as the end customer now demands more sustainable products.
Building material players all over the world are looking for answers to the questions “What can we produce more sustainable, how can we make production processes more sustainable”. For this, he is running after new technologies. There is no ‘winning technology’ right now. But in the next 2-3 years, a winning technology will emerge and it will be commercialized.
As Sabancı Group, we are working on carbon burning technologies. I can say that we have made significant progress in alternative fuels and alternative raw materials. The facility in Afyon is one of the production facilities with the highest alternative fuel consumption in Turkey. We want to take this further.
we are currently in Afyon Cement Isn’t it one of the places where the latest technology is used?
BURAK ORHUN- TRUE. This factory is one of the cement factories where the most advanced technology is used in Turkey. It is an important investment for both the region and Turkey. While producing the cement, we took two important steps for less carbon emissions. One is that we have an investment where we can burn alternative fuels, fuels derived from waste instead of coal. In addition, we will have a very important solar power plant investment, where we can produce the electricity we consume.
In the past, we were talking about foreign companies’ acquisitions in Turkey or their projects in Turkey. In recent years, we started to talk about the investments of Turkish companies in foreign countries. Çimsa also has investments in Houston and Bunol in this area. What role do Çimsa and the Construction Materials Group have in Sabancı’s vision of the world?
BURAK ORHUN- Especially after the pandemic, there was a significant break in the global supply chain. Now the customer wants the goods they supply to be closer. This situation is independent of sectors; Valid for all exported products. The era of ‘let’s sit here, sell abroad’ has passed. It is necessary to work with the customer and to be in the ecosystem where the customer is located. We, as Sabancı Group; This is exactly what we are emphasizing when we say ‘We unite Turkey and the world’ in our Community Valley.
Sabancı Group has many foreign partners, each of which is a giant in its own field. We have joint investments both in Turkey and abroad. Our mission of “unifying Turkey and the world”; We provide the knowledge we obtain here by moving abroad and bringing the know-how there to Turkey. As Building Materials Group, we have production facilities in the USA and Spain. We also have terminals in various countries in Europe. Thanks to this network, we develop local talents in a global context.
This has two purposes; The first is to be closer to the customer, and the second is to be able to develop already value-added products together in a way that brings more added value.
Turkey is in an important position in building materials, but life goes on. What can we do to move this forward? As Sabancı Group, do you take on a special responsibility for yourself here?
UMUT ZENAR– Afyon is our factory that we are really proud of. There is an investment of 165 million dollars here. We have investments in the use of extra waste and technology development. We also offer the product we produce in this facility to the market in the US state of Houston. This is truly a great achievement.
At the end of the day, the construction industry; a sector affected by structural movements and economic developments. That’s why we say that the industry has certain homework assignments. When we collect them under three main headings; The first is to increase competitiveness in exports. The second is the creation of a serious and qualified human resource. The third is differentiation on the side of sustainable products.
Çimsa has implemented these three titles within the framework of certain plans.
Let’s start with competitiveness in exports: Çimsa is currently exporting to more than 65 countries. In other words, we have a customer portfolio and distribution network in over 65 countries. We managed to increase our market share from 8 percent in the USA to 20 percent in just 2 years. 1 out of every 5 products consumed in the USA is white cement produced by Çimsa.
In addition, we purchased a factory in Spain. We were already exporting to Europe. But with this purchase, we became the player of the market by gaining a place in the market. Our current market share in Spain is 50 percent. In other words, 1 out of every 2 products sold is sold under the Çimsa brand. We are proud of that too.
Another issue is human resources. We bring this to the agenda at every opportunity at IMSAD sector meetings, of which we are a member. of the sector; There is a need for companions who have a good world vision, can integrate into the global system, and manage this trade properly. In this sense, we, as Çimsa, differentiated ourselves. There is also the issue of sustainable products. This comes incredibly fast. Especially after the new regulations that came into force in Europe, it has become a necessity for all building materials companies to comply with this. As Çimsa, we had already taken action long before these new regulations. Our waste utilization rate in Afyon Cement has reached 35 percent. We made our facility in Afyon more competitive compared to other cement factories in the world with the use of 35 percent waste. In terms of environmental impact, we prevented a carbon emission equivalent to the carbon dioxide that 23 thousand hectares of forest area would hold.
In other words, instead of coal, we use the wastes of other sectors as fuel, which is a very serious number. This figure should be compared as follows; In an area where Turkey’s average is 7 percent, we produce fuel from the wastes of other sectors, 5 times higher than the average, that is, 35 percent.
In this way, we both put cost-reducing factors on the agenda, but at the same time, we continue to make investments that will benefit the environment and society.
And the issue of renewable energy generation… We are installing a solar power plant (GES) in our facility in Afyon. With this investment, we will be providing the electricity consumed in our facility from renewable sources.