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Alcoa Meets Carbon Goal 10 Years Early

Alcoa has beaten its carbon reduction goal a decade early, according to the company’s 2010 sustainability report.

Last year the company cut its greenhouse gas emissions to 22 percent below 2005 levels, exceeding a 2020 goal of a 20 percent reduction. Alcoa lowered its 2010 carbon intensity to seven percent below 2009 levels. The report said the reductions are the result of energy efficiency improvements, repositioning of operations to take advantage of hydroelectric power, and other changes.

In 2010 the company also saw improvements in energy intensity, freshwater intensity and landfilled waste.

But mercury emissions rose by seven percent, from 0.256 to 0.274 grams per metric ton of alumina produced, pushing Alcoa further off its 2020 target of 0.046 grams per metric ton of alumina (an 80 percent reduction from a 2005 baseline). The report said the increase was primarily due to increased production at certain refineries where reduction remains a greater challenge.

Likewise the company moved away from its 2020 goal on mine rehabilitation, with the five-year rolling average ratio of area disturbed to area rehabilitated rising from 1:1 in 2009 to 1.15:1 in 2010. The company is aiming for a ratio of 0.75:1 in 2020. It said the 2010 increase was due to the opening of a new mine area at Juruti, Brazil, and the 2009 acquisition of mines from BHP Billiton.

Alcoa adopted its 2020 and 2030 targets last year, one of a number of changes to environmental management. In 2010 the company also appointed its first chief sustainability officer, Kevin Anton, to develop a comprehensive strategy integrating all its sustainability efforts. Alcoa developed a Sustainability Scorecard to align its sustainability targets with strategy across all of its businesses.

Also last year, Alcoa established its Life Cycle Center of Excellence to enhance assessments of its processes and products. It received silver-level Cradle to Cradle certification for its primary aluminium, and expanded product pilots in 2010 to significantly increase furniture’s recyclable material content and reduce end-of-life landfilling by nearly 75 percent, the company said.

The past year also saw Alcoa initiate supplier sustainability pilot programs in Canada, Latin America, and the U.S., to better understand the potential alignment of its supply base with its key sustainability objectives. This information has helped the company develop a Global Supplier Sustainability Program, which it will launch this year.

The report describes major issues that company stakeholders raised in 2010. These include PCB contamination of the Grasse River downstream from Alcoa’s Massena, N.Y., facility, concerns about its Juruti bauxite ore operation, and arthritic conditions and lameness in kangaroos living near its Portland, Australia smelter. The company said it has met and corresponded with stakeholders to address all these concerns.

Alcoa placed first in the Basic Resources category in this year’s Covalence Ethical Rankings, as it has done every year since the rankings began in 2005.

This week Alcoa launched Reynobond with EcoClean, a coil-coated architectural panel that, according to the manufacturer, “helps clean itself and the air around it”.

Earlier this year, it announced a $10 million investment in Electronic Recyclers International (ERI), one of the nation’s biggest collectors of e-waste.

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