The Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) was launched in 2012 to foster greater sustainability and transparency throughout the aluminium industry. Supported by key industry players, ASI is working with a broad base of stakeholders to assess industry-specific sustainability challenges, opportunities and needs.
The COP 21 meetings in Paris in December 2015 have resulted in an agreement to keep global average temperatures below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and for countries to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C. ASI aims to contribute to the global effort for climate change action through the development of its Certification program for the aluminium value chain.
ASI is developing globally applicable standards for international application by the aluminium value chain to:
- enable the aluminium industry to demonstrate responsibility and provide independent and credible assurance of performance;
- reinforce and promote consumer and stakeholder confidence in aluminium products;
- reduce reputational risks concerning aluminium and aluminium industry players; and
- address the expressed needs by downstream industrial users and consumers for responsible sourcing of aluminium.
ASI’s standards are designed to be applicable to all stages of aluminium production and transformation, specifically: bauxite mining, alumina refining, primary aluminium production, semi-fabrication (rolling, extrusion, forging and foundry), material conversion, and refining and re-melting of recycled scrap, as well as material stewardship criteria relevant to downstream users of aluminium.
Two standards will form the core of the ASI Certification program:
- ASI Performance Standard (Principles and Criteria launched December 2014)
- ASI Chain of Custody Standard
The ASI Assurance model – how the standards will be audited and certification granted – is also under development in 2015-16.
The ASI Performance Standard, published in December 2014, explicitly recognises the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and requires entities seeking ASI Certification to commit to reducing their GHG emissions from a lifecycle perspective to mitigate their climate impacts.
The Performance Standard includes specific criteria applicable through the aluminium value chain. All entities seeking ASI Certification are required to publicly disclose GHG emissions and energy use by source on an annual basis, and to publish time-bound emissions reductions targets. The targets need to cover the most material sources of direct and indirect emissions and be supported by implementation plans.
As approximately 80% of all GHG emissions in the aluminium industry worldwide relate to the energy-intensive smelting process, the ASI Performance Standard also includes two smelter-specific criteria. Smelters starting production after 2020 must achieve a level of direct and indirect (Scope 1 and 2) GHG emissions below 8 tonnes CO2-eq per metric tonne of aluminium produced. Existing aluminium smelters that were in production before 2020 must achieve the 8 tonnes CO2-eq per metric tonne level by 2030.
To put this in perspective, the current global average for aluminium ingot production is estimated to be 12 CO2-eq per metric tonne. ASI’s Performance Standard requirements thus represent a shift towards a lowered emissions profile for the sector that is both significant and long-term. Furthermore, ASI’s Certification program can ideally help to create market drivers for change.
Looking ahead, ASI has committed to explore what a 2°C compliant GHG emissions trajectory would look like for the aluminium sector. A GHG Working Group will be established in 2016 under the ASI Standards Committee, to enable input and engagement with climate change experts, members and stakeholders. Once the 2°C trajectory is better understood, ASI will take the findings into account in the next revision of the Performance Standard.
(Dr Fiona Solomon is the Executive Director of the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI). Her career has specialised in growing new and innovative initiatives in mineral supply chains. ASI was launched in 2012 to foster greater sustainability and transparency throughout the aluminium industry. ASI (www.aluminium-stewardship.org)is working with a broad base of stakeholders to assess industry-specific sustainability challenges, opportunities and needs.)