Metals Firms Unveil Smog-Eating Buildings, Recycling Goals
Novelis, an $8.7 billion-sales aluminum rolling company, estimated that meeting its recycled content goal would prevent the release of ten million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from the aluminium product value chain.
The company said it is planning major expansions of its recycling and remelting capacity around the world, and will expand buy-back opportunities for aluminum scrap. Novelis said that it also intends to increase post-consumer recycling through expansion of recycling facility infrastructure, by investing in the development of recycling technology, and through consumer education.
The aluminum firm said it is also accelerating research and development of new products. This includes products for sustainable applications, and partnership activities with customers to target the “next generation” of aluminum alloys, which the company said will enable increased use of post-consumer recycled metal.
The Novelis initiative follows similar announcements by metals giant Alcoa, which has set a goal increase the recycling rate of aluminum cans in the U.S. to 75 percent by the year 2015. This goal, if met, would save the industry the electricity equivalent of two average-size coal-fired power plants and prevent nearly 12 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year, the company said.
Yesterday Alcoa made its own sustainability announcement: it launched Reynobond with EcoClean, a coil-coated architectural panel that, according to the manufacturer, “helps clean itself and the air around it”.
The aluminum panel, developed with Japanese manufacturer TOTO, has a titanium dioxide coating that reduces maintenance costs. When exposed to sunlight, the coating acts as a catalyst to help break down smog, dirt, diesel fumes and other pollutants into harmless matter that is then washed away by rainwater, Alcoa says. (The picture above shows one step in the chemical process. Alcoa offers a more detailed explanation here.)
Alcoa adds that 10,000 square feet of the panels has the approximate air cleansing power of 80 trees.
As part of its recycling announcement, Novelis has also revealed that it will release its first public sustainability report this July, and that it is forming an external sustainability advisory board to monitor performance. The sustainability commitment is being led by John Gardner, a long-time Novelis executive who was appointed vice president and chief sustainability officer beginning January 1 of this year. Gardner reports directly to president and CEO Phil Martens and works closely with Derek Prichett, who was recently appointed to the newly created position of vice president of recycling.
“I encourage all of our stakeholders – from customers to suppliers to partners and employees – to take good look at the commitment we are making today,” Gardner said. “I think you will find that it is an aggressive, yet attainable bar to set for the sustainable operation of our business.”
Novelis is a subsidiary of Hindalco Industries Limited, one of Asia’s largest integrated producers of aluminum and a leading copper producer. Hindalco is a company of the Indian conglomerate Aditya Birla Group.
A presentation outlining the elements of the Novelis Sustainability Commitment can be found at www.novelis.com/sustainability.
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