Leaders from the aluminium sector yesterday unveiled a new comprehensive standard that aims to improve the industry’s environmental, social and governance performance throughout its entire value chain, including plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

After a year-long development effort, the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) Performance Standard will address issues relevant to the production and stewardship of aluminium, from extraction of bauxite to the producers of commercial and consumer goods and the recycling of pre- and post-consumer aluminium scrap. The Standard focuses on eleven key issues: business integrity, policy and management, transparency, material stewardship, greenhouse gas emissions, emissions, effluents
and waste, water, biodiversity, human rights, labour rights, and occupational health and safety.

BMW Group, Hydro, Nestlé Nespresso SA and Rio Tinto Alcan, along with Fauna & Flora International, Forest Peoples Programme, IndustriALL Global Union and the International Union of Conservation and Nature (IUCN) are some of the 28 organizations that worked together to define the Principles and Criteria in all the sustainability issues relevant to the aluminium value chain.

“The agreement is a landmark achievement, which will deliver results all around, for nature, the mining sector, local communities, consumers and the aluminium industry itself,” said Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Director General of IUCN, which facilitated the ASI standard setting process. “The ASI Standard is an important first step. Once implemented, it will help companies achieve greater efficiencies and transparency, while improving their social and environmental performance.”

The Standard will be implemented through a third party certification system involving all industry players along the aluminium value chain. End-users, such as Audi, BMW Group, Jaguar Land Rover and Nestlé Nespresso SA, have already indicated their intention to buy certified aluminium as soon as it is available.

“The aluminium industry is committed to maximizing the value that its products and activities generate, while minimizing their impacts. Working together with industry representatives of the aluminium value chain and of civil society to improve the industry’s performance and make it more sustainable is a win-win for everyone.” said Jostein Soreide, Manager Sustainability and LCA of Hydro, and co-chair of the ASI Standard Setting Group. “We, the companies behind the ASI Standard, expect now to bring more peers on board”.

The ASI Performance Standard will enable players in the aluminium value chain to provide independent, credible and verifiable information regarding their environmental, social and governance performance; and, thus, make it possible to identify suppliers and materials throughout the supply chain based on their sustainability performance. The ASI Standard addresses each of the 11 sustainability aspects with detail criteria. Examples include:

  • Under the criteria for greenhouse gas emissions, companies – recognizing the ultimate objective set by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – are committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, as well as design and achieve a roadmap to reduce these emissions. For instance, smelters will have to, by 2030, demonstrate that the level of direct and indirect GHG emissions (scope 1 and scope 2) from the production of aluminium is below a set level.
  • Under material stewardship, the standard requires consumer goods companies to focus on resource efficiency, design for environment and to develop recycling timelines and targets for endof-life of aluminium containing products, which will improve industry resource efficiency and minimize environmental impact.
  • In particular for women’s rights, indigenous people, local communities, and conflict affected areas, which have specific requirements, companies must agree to uphold the UN-backed human rights declaration at all stages of their operations, and in particular where indigenous people and their lands, territories or resources are involved, specific measures are required.

“This new Standard is the result of a truly multi-stakeholder process, which allowed different parties to share their own perspectives and priorities with the aim of reaching a positive compromise” said Pippa Howard, Director of Business and Biodiversity at Fauna & Flora International, and co-chair of the ASI Standard Setting Group “The Standard represents a shared vision of what is needed for the industry to further improve its performance.”

To enable product specific claims, a Chain of Custody Standard has also been developed. It will be released in early 2015.

Download ASI Performance Standard (Part I: Principles and Criteria) Version 1