Novelis on track to meet 2020 water reduction target

Global aluminium company Novelis has reduced its water-use intensity by 16% from 2007-2009 average levels, putting it on track to achieve its 25% reduction target by 2020.

The process in Novelis’ operations that uses the most water is the casting of ingots after remelting recycled materials – something the company has increased dramatically over the last few years.

Ingot casting will rise as the company increases its recycling of scrap aluminium, which has the potential to push up Novelis’ water-use.

To combat this, the company has been working to use water in this process more efficiently, primarily by maximising cooling water re-use.

However, according to Novelis, the smelting process, by which primary aluminium is made, is more water-intensive than the recycling process.

Therefore, if Novelis’ absolute water-use rises the more it recycles, the overall life cycle water use for its products will decrease.

Turning to its recycling efforts, where Novelis is aiming to use 80% recycled aluminium in its products by 2020, the percentage of recycled inputs was 43% in full year 2013, up from 39% the prior year and up 13% from 2007.

This increase in recycling, however, is impacting energy use, as the majority of energy usage in Novelis’ facilities occurs at its recycling casting centres, during the process of rolling hot and cold aluminium.

Although Novelis’ energy intensity has decreased 19% from the 2007-2009 average baseline, it was essentially flat in 2013 alone. Its total energy-use has followed a similar path – decreasing 23% since its baseline, but down just 1% in full year 2013.

Novelis CEO Phil Martens said: “We are still in the early stages of our sustainability journey, with many hurdles yet to overcome, but our efforts are already beginning to bear fruit…This progress is being enabled by investments of close to $500m [£304m] to nearly double our recycling capacity by 2015”.

Leigh Stringer

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