Sustainability in the Alumeco Group
Improving the environmental and social state of our planet
Running a business is not only about profit. We are also committed to the world around us. To support our goal of contributing to a sustainable future for people and planet, we have chosen to focus on four UN Sustainable Development Goals:
Based on these goals, our sustainability efforts are currently focused around three main areas (from short to long term):
- Our own climate footprint
- Our social impact in our local areas
- The climate footprint of our supply chain
We aim to use 100% electricity from renewable sources by 2040.
We will do this in three streps:
- Reduce the energy demand in Alumeco Group
- Produce our own renewable energy
- Invest in green alternatives and purchase offsets
To guarantee high standards across the Alumeco Group, we want to be ISO 45001-certified (work environment) in Poland, China, Germany and Denmark.
We recognize that primary production of metals is very carbon and energy intensive. To maximise the use of the produced metals, we will reduce our scrap by 20% in our central warehouses by 2040.
We will reduce our scrap in two ways:
- Improve material yield in production
- Improve reuse of scrap material in production
We will also provide materials with a reduced carbon footprint, e.g. material produced from recycled metals.
Our mission is to reduce our total CO2 emissions, within scope 1 and 2, with 80% before the year 2040.
Our main actions are:
- Reduce our direct emissions
- Invest in green electricity
- Invest in verified carbon reduction projects to offset emissions
How will we get there?
ISO 14001 and ISO 45001
Through ISO 14001 we are comitted to continuously improve our work with environmental sustainability and set clear goals.
Alumeco is currently ISO 14001 certified in Denmark, Sweden and Germany, and Aluwind is certified in Denmark, Poland and China.
Furthermore, we are in the process of being ISO 45001 certified to ensure a continued focus on work environment and employee wellbeing.
To reach our goals, we are approaching these issues from multiple angles - through multiple projects throughout Alumeco Group.
We have e.g. invested in a new software for our plate saws in Denmark and Germany, which helps us to save up to 5% raw material every year. In connection with this, we also developed a new policy on reusing scrap based on historic data.
We have also installed chargers for electric cars in Denmark, so customers and employees can charge their car during work hours.
Aluwind Poland has appointed a Sustainability Officer who is, among other things, optimising the local energy and heat consumption through upgrading light systems and compressors. This has already saved several tonnes of CO2 each year. The sustainability officer is also ensuring that Aluwind's products and business are always optimised to meet the requirements from the industry.
We are also looking into the possibility of producing our own renewable energy through solar panels on our roofs. Being a wholesaler, we have a number of very large, very flat buildings for warehouse and production, and these areas are ideal for solar panels.
The initial mining of raw materials and production of primary metal is the biggest sustainability issue with metals. However, a lot of metals can be recycled and reused with minimal impact on the climate and environment. This is e.g. true for aluminium, copper alloys and stainless steel, which are our main products.
Aluminium does not exist in its pure state in nature. To produce aluminium, bauxit is mined and refined into alumina (aluinium oxide), which can then be separated into aluminium and oxide through electrolysis. The electrolysis process is very energy intensive, but once the aluminium has gone through this process once, it can be reused and recycled almost endlessly.
There are currently two ways to reduce the carbon footprint of aluminium; to reduce the carbon footprint of the process by powering the electrolysis with renewable energy or to avoid the electrolysis process by using recycled aluminium.
This is the why we offer GreenAl and RecycAl:
To avoid the enormous amounts of carbon emissions that can come from producing primary aluminium, GreenAl is primary aluminium that is produced with energy from renewable sources such as wind or water.
The carbon footprint of GreenAl is as low as 4 kg CO2/kg aluminium.
Re-melting used aluminium into new material only requires 5 % energy compared to producing new aluminium (primary aluminium) from raw material through electrolysis.
RecycAl is based on recycled aluminium, and the carbon footprint is as low as 2.04 kg CO2/kg aluminium.
Recycled copper alloys
Because copper is an essential component in the green transition, copper scrap is a very valuable material. One third of the global demand for copper is met through recycling, and in Europe the rate is approximately 50%. However, there is still untapped potential in dismantling and recycling the metals in e.g. old batteries and electric components.
To encourage recycling, we have introduced closed loops for some of our copper customers, enabling them to sell their scrap back to us in return for new metals. We intend to refine and expand this programme, but the practical and legal framework is not in place yet.
Recycled stainless steel
The most common alloying elements in stainless steel, such as nickel, chrome and molybdenum, cannot be found in nature in their pure form. This means that in addition to the initial mining process, the material then needs to be purified before it can be used in the production of stainless steel.
This proces is energy intensive, but, once produced, stainless steel can be reused many times without compromising the quality. This reduces the need for mining and purifying the raw materials.
Today, between 80 and 90% of all stainless steel produced in Europe comes from scrap metal.
We recognize that our environmental footprint as a wholesaler is only a small fraction of the environmental impact of the metal industry.
Mining and producing metals is very energy and carbon intensive, and even though these emissions are not a result of our business specifically, we do carry part of the responsibility. In the near future we are launching initiatives to encourage our suppliers to decrease their carbon footprint.
Through our products RecycAl and GreenAl we sell carbon reduced materials, but we are facing a major shortage of scrap aluminium. Aluminium can be recycled endlessly with no loss of quality, but aluminium is also very long-lasting. This combination means that the demand for aluminium is a lot higher than the available amount of scrap.
In fact, if all aluminium produced in 1990 were to be recycled in 2020, it would only cover 30% of the global demand for aluminium.
In short, even though there is a huge potential in recycling aluminium, this potential is already utilised. The big wins in the near future will instead be coming from reducing the carbon emissions from primary production of aluminium.
Similarly, the demand for copper is rising and will continue to rise with the green transition. Copper is the best known conductor of electricity after silver, which makes copper an essential component of e.g. electric vehicles, information systems and renewable energy production. As a result, the demand for copper cannot be met through recycling alone – but with a stronger focus on closed loops and utilizing the value of copper scrap, we can increase the recycling rate of copper.