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Alcoa announced September 15 that it is has received Cradle to Cradle Certification – Silver for its primary aluminum. Cradle to Cradle Certification is an independent environmental certification process for materials and products that assesses the total impact of a product on human health and the environment. The announcement was made at the Aluminium 2010 show in Essen, Germany.
Alcoa is the first aluminum company to receive Cradle to Cradle Certification from MBDC (McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry), a global sustainability consulting and product certification firm that developed the Cradle to Cradle concept in 1995.
“Cradle to Cradle Certification is landmark recognition of the uniquely sustainable characteristics of Alcoa aluminum,” said Kevin Anton, chief sustainability officer for Alcoa. “Through this certification, Alcoa can assure its customers the company is continuing to improve the sustainability of our metal from initial production through use, and then recycling.”
Cradle to Cradle Certification is a multi-attribute eco-label that assesses a product’s safety to humans and the environment and design for future life cycles. Unlike single-attribute eco-labels, MBDC’s certification program takes a comprehensive approach to evaluating the sustainability of a product and the practices employed in manufacturing the product. The materials and manufacturing practices of each product are assessed in five categories: Material Health, Material Reutilization, Renewable Energy Use, Water Stewardship and Social Responsibility.
“Alcoa is showing an increasing commitment to making its products safe, healthy and recyclable," said Jay Bolus, vice president, technical operations, for MBDC. “We congratulate Alcoa on its Silver certification and look forward to continuing to work with the company to help it create a positive impact as an organization.”
Process improvements Alcoa has made in the way it produces aluminum – from reductions in energy use, deploying efficient water management systems, and recycling – helped earn the certification, and contribute to the Vision 2050 goals of reaching a sustainable global society in which nine billion people live well and within the limits of the planet. Alcoa has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions 44 percent since 1990 while doubling capacity. In the last 10 years the company has reduced its process water use by 29% and landfill waste by 70%. About 63% of Alcoa’s smelting operations worldwide are powered with renewable hydroelectric power.
“Customers who use Alcoa’s aluminum start their product development with a Cradle to Cradle sustainable material,” said Tim Reyes, president of Alcoa Materials Management. “They are assured that when they buy aluminum from Alcoa, they are making a smart environmental choice.”
Aluminum is infinitely recyclable, and nearly 75 percent of all aluminum ever produced since 1888 is still in use today. Recycling aluminum uses 95 percent less energy and produces 95 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than making metal from new materials.
Alcoa is the world’s leading producer of primary aluminum, fabricated aluminum and alumina. In addition to inventing the modern-day aluminum industry, Alcoa innovation has been behind major milestones in the aerospace, automotive, packaging, building and construction, commercial transportation, consumer electronics and industrial markets over the past 120 years. Among the solutions Alcoa markets are flat-rolled products, hard alloy extrusions, and forgings, as well as Alcoa wheels, fastening systems, precision and investment castings, and building systems in addition to its expertise in other light metals such as titanium and nickel-based super alloys. Sustainability is an integral part of Alcoa’s operating practices and the product design and engineering it provides to customers. Alcoa has been a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for eight consecutive years and approximately 75 percent of all of the aluminum ever produced since 1888 is still in active use today. Alcoa employs approximately 59,000 people in 31 countries across the world.
MBDC is a global consulting and certification firm that helps clients create a positive footprint on the planet by implementing the Cradle to Cradle framework. The framework is based on the book by internationally recognized architect/designer William McDonough and chemist Dr. Michael Braungart, “Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things”. Cradle to Cradle Certification is an external certification process that can be applied across industries, from building materials to consumer products. Cradle to Cradle Consulting helps clients integrate the larger Cradle to Cradle design framework to optimize product life cycles, organizational operations and decision-making. In May, MBDC announced the transfer of the protocol for Cradle to Cradle Certification of products to the Green Products Innovation Institute, a non-profit organization based in California.