“This company invented a better soda can. Why isn’t anybody buying?” – Grist, 30 October 2014

Less than a year after introducing the evercan, Novelis broke ground on a new multimillion dollar plant in Germany to manufacture the cans, which are made of 90 percent recycled aluminum. Novelis thought the evercan was a win-win for the company: the cans are cheaper to produce and more sustainable for the environment, since far less energy is used to produce recycled aluminum than virgin aluminum, a minimum of five percent.

With such advantages, it seems that the large beverage companies — Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, MillerCoors, etc. — would be chomping at the bit to get their hands on the evercan; however, these companies aren’t buying. The only company currently using the evercan is Georgia-based micro-brewer Red Hare Brewing Co. What’s even more odd is that Novelis’ aluminum supply is being purchased in spades by top automobile companies Ford and GM for their new lines of all-aluminum body cars.

But it seems that the beverage industry’s preferences are elsewhere. Besides the beverage companies’ hesitance to rely on one aluminum supplier, many of the companies, such as Coca-Cola, prefer PET plastic bottles to cans. Coca-Cola uses a bottle called a “plantbottle,” which is a PET bottle produced from sugar cane and sugar cane waste. The plantbottle makes up 60 percent of Coca-Cola’s worldwide sales. Moreover, the plantbottle is also resealable, which is a bonus for consumers.

Environmentally undesirable land filling, for obvious reasons, is a total waste of energy and valuable raw materials. Exporting lower value scrap is another way to export energy and valuable elements embedded in post-consumer aluminum products, only to come back to the US as more value added semi and fully finished products. This would adversely affect US trade balance.

Furthermore, economic incentives and societal consumer awareness supported by numerous newer scrap sorting technologies under development should limit land filling of scrap in US and reduce scrap export to countries like China.

If one beverage company vouches for the evercan, then perhaps other companies would follow suit. But more than that, the industries directly involved in recycling — aluminum, beverage, and waste — need to bolster their recycling actions so that Novelis has more material to work with.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

November 2, 2014

Phinix LLC

Copyright 2014. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.

www.phinix.net    skdas@phinix.net

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Novelis Sustainability Report 2013

In 2011, Novelis decided to strengthen their company by increasing their business’ sustainability and innovation. The most important component of their new vision is to use 80% recycled aluminum in all their products by 2020. Once they reach this goal, they will then halve their products’ embedded carbon.

In 2011, when Novelis set their intended goals, they used the average of fiscal years 2007-2009 as their standard. Some of their 2020 goals include:

  • Increase recycled metal content from the current 43% to 80%
  • Reduce energy usage by 39%, from the current 10 GJ/mt to 7.6
  • Reduce water usage by 25%, from the current 3.1 m3/mt to 2.7
  • Halve the absolute amount of GHG emissions, from the current 18 M mt to 11
  • Have zero landfill waste from the current 55.6 K mt

While the company is headquartered in Atlanta, George, there are also facilities in Sao Paulo, Zurich and Seoul, serving the beverage can, automotive and high-end specialty markets. There is a rising demand for aluminum in these markets, especially the automobile industry, since 2010 when Obama obligated car manufacturers to double their new-car average fuel economy by 2025. In 2013, the aluminum industry grew 25%, as aluminum allows for lightweighting vehicles, a crucial enabler in increasing fuel efficiency.

As mentioned before, another huge element of Novelis’ move to increase sustainability is to reduce the embedded carbon in their products, which can be done by boosting recycled content. By using more recycled materials and by creating fewer new materials, Novelis reduces their carbon footprint. They’ve recently invested almost $500 million in doubling their recycling space by opening two new recycling plants, one in South Korea and the other in Germany.

Novelis is directly addressing the global issue of climate change, particularly the current concern of the maximum safe limit for concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere. The company’s method to decrease their GHG emissions can best be described as a life cycle approach, with a goal of reducing their emissions by 50% by 2020. This idea, coupled with increasing their recycled metal content to 80%, will help them reach their target.

Novelis has also incorporated supporting recycling education into their new vision, as well as advocating awareness and policy initiatives, which will escalate recycling rates and increase the company’s supply of post-consumer aluminum scrap. We at Phinix are huge proponents of all of the above, especially recycling education.

Take a look at Novelis’ website and the full report.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

January 28, 2014

Phinix LLC

Copyright 2013. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.

www.phinix.net    skdas@phinix.net

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