You may not have heard of Novelis, but the chances are high you have touched its products, perhaps multiple times on a daily basis. With over US$11 billion in revenues, the company has made its mark everywhere from aluminum cans, foil and electronics to the automobile sector.
Last week, the company announced a new product line of high-recycled content for food containers.
The product, called evercycle, could be an important step in the overall sustainability of the aluminum industry. True, aluminum recycling is just about the lowest fruit you can pick on the sustainable behavior tree. The results are obvious: Recycled aluminum uses less than 5 percent of the energy used to make it out of virgin bauxite. Over 30 percent of all aluminum used in the United States comes from recycled scrap. But at a time when resources are becoming scarcer and more expensive, we can always do better.
According to Novelis, its recycled product fills that void. The product contains about 90 percent post-consumer content, with the rest coming from customer manufacturing scrap. For now the evercycle product is only available in North America, but the company expects it to become available globally as demand increases.
The development of this product is one part of Novelis’ overall sustainability agenda. So far the company has reached 46 percent recycled content as of the end of its last fiscal year. Meanwhile the company has worked on greening its operations, with 2014 showing a 5 percent reduction in energy intensity and a reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions by 4 percent over the previous year. Novelis also says it has invested US$500 million in its global recycling operations since 2011, which has doubled its overall recycling capacity to 2.1 million metric tons (2.3 million short tons) annually.
“The launch of evercycle is an important step toward Novelis’ goal to increase the overall recycled content of our products to 80 percent by 2020 — a direct result of our innovation in alloy development and recycling,” said Marco Palmieri, senior vice president and president of Novelis North America. “Novelis evercycle is designed for customers who want to demonstrate their dedication to sustainability through the use of higher recycled products.”
Novelis’ competitors are hardly slouching on the recycling front. Alcoa is the first aluminum company to earn the Cradle to Cradle certification for some of its products, and has largely been behind urging the industry to achieve a 75 percent recycling rate by the end of this year. Rio Tinto also touts its environmental chops, claiming its smelting technology has the lowest carbon footprint within the industry, in part because of the six hydropower stations the company owns and operates.
Image credit: Marcos André