Climate change is today one of society’s chief concerns. The aluminium industry is carbon- and energy-intensive, accounting for 1% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and consuming 5% of global energy output in the production of primary aluminium.

However, new technologies and countries’ decarbonization efforts are driving competition toward a sustainable economy and creating significant challenges and opportunities for our market. Aluminium can play a big role in this transition: our lightweight, versatile, durable and infinitely recyclable products are essential enablers of a low-carbon future.

Greenhouse gas emissions management

CBA is one of the largest producers of low-GHG aluminium in the world*. Yet we are constantly working to further cut GHG emissions from our operations as part of our efforts against climate change. Learn below about our progress in this direction:

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This program is active in the following SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals)

Transmission intensity in the electrolysis process.

tons of CO2 / tons of liquid aluminum (2020)

*According to CRU data, our smelter GHG emissions are in the first—and lowest—quartile on a global basis. 

** The indicator is calculated based on Scope 1 and 2 emissions at the electrolysis stage.

Gestão energética

Aluminium production is electricity-intensive, especially at the electrolysis stage of smelting. But CBA has a significant competitive advantage: 21 hydroelectric power plants generating enough renewable electricity to meet the full electricity requirement at our plant in Alumínio. Yet we believe there is always room for improvement when it comes to sustainability.

 

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This program is active in the following SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals)

The circular economy, a major global trend, is creating a shift in production and consumer patterns that will drive more efficient use of natural capital and create added value across a product lifecycle. Aluminium is infinitely recyclable and can support supply chains that are less resource-intensive and more circular, with increased re-utilization of raw materials and minimized environmental impact.

Recycling aluminium requires 5% of the amount of electricity required to produce primary aluminium. These benefits, and the fact that recycled aluminium fully retains its original properties, create enormous potential to drive reductions in GHG emissions and energy consumption in the aluminium value chain.

Aluminium recycling

According to data from the International Aluminium Institute (IAI), recycled aluminium could meet half of demand for the metal by 2050. Aluminium demand is expected to increase by about 80% in this period, due to population and economic growth and the shift to a low carbon economy. In response to this trend, CBA has undertaken a set of ambitious commitments for 2030 and is investing in projects to substantially expand recycling capacity over the coming years.

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This program is active in the following SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals)

Carton and flexible packaging recycling

Currently only the paper portion of multilayer cartons, for example, can be recycled back into the process. The plastic and aluminium are reprocessed together, creating new materials. This poses a major obstacle from a circular-economy perspective. Flexible packaging, another multilayered material, is non-recyclable with current technologies and is often disposed of in landfills. Leading consumer goods manufacturers have struggled to recycle these types of materials and are seeking alternatives to aluminium in cartons and flexible packaging. In response to this market demand, CBA has set a specific target for 2030 to create added value in the supply chain for recycled multilayered packaging.

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This program is active in the following SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals)

Our 2030 Goal

  • Recycle 40,000 metric tons of cartons and flexible packaging per year.

What we’re doing

ReAl Project

An innovative physical and chemical process developed at CBA—dubbed ReAl—uses an alkaline solution that can isolate the plastic from any of these packaging materials, allowing the aluminium to be recycled. Unlike aluminium, plastic will not react in an alkaline solution, and can be cleanly removed from the process and then fully recycled. In addition to the benefit of recycling the aluminium and plastic layers, the process will generate hydrogen that can be used to produce clean energy on-site. The proprietary process will create added value for the entire packaging supply chain and its different actors, at low operating costs. CBA’s ReAl technology has now been patented and the recycling plant is due to begin operating in 2022, increasing packaging recycling rates in line with Brazil’s National Solid Waste Policy. This is the circular economy at work!

CBA is strongly committed to preserving natural resources and biodiversity, and helping to limit climate change. Our mine reclamation efforts and low-carbon aluminium production processes are a part of this commitment. And we exercise good water, energy and waste stewardship. This is how we are building industry leadership in sustainability.

Water stewardship

Growing water consumption around the world is impacting available resources, making them increasingly scarce and less accessible. The lack of water stewardship combined with extended droughts is exacerbating the threat to people and our planet from the current climate emergency. The aluminium production process is water-intensive and water-dependent. Indeed, without water, there can be no aluminium. 

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This program is active in the following SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals)

The mining and metals industry experienced water-related financial impacts amounting to USD 11.8 billion from 2013 to 2018 (CDP, 2018).

CBA recognizes that water usage needs to be managed in a way that minimizes impacts and reduces pressures on local water resources. We are committed to reducing our water dependence by lowering consumption and increasing reuse at each stage of our operations. CBA has clearly articulated guidance in place on managing water and effluents, and conforms to all applicable legal requirements and the practices prescribed in global industry standards. 

Biodiversity

CBA also produces forests and biodiversity. As part of our sustainability governance, we work to minimize environmental impacts from our operations, restore native vegetation, and increase environmental awareness among our employees and the communities where we operate.

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This program is active in the following SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals)

Restored forests provide a habitat to which native fauna can return, including birds, wild animals and even large mammals—benefiting people and our planet. In addition, an industry that values the carbon stored in vegetation and the soil can create new business models and investment opportunities that help to prevent deforestation and drive reforestation and land rehabilitation. 

Dams are an inherent part of aluminium mining and production, and one with significant potential impacts. To prevent dam incidents, these structures need to be maintained in good condition, constantly monitored and kept compliant with applicable regulations.

Waste dams

CBA operates six dams in the municipalities of Alumínio (SP), Itamarati de Minas (MG), Miraí (MG) and Niquelândia (GO): two are for water impoundment, two are mining dams, and two are industrial waste dams. All dams operated by CBA have been built with appropriate materials and never using waste. Learn more about our dam management activities below. 

 

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This program is active in the following SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals)