PE Americas has recently completed “one of the most comprehensive and transparent life-cycle analyses (LCA) ever conducted by an industry group for the Aluminum Association.” The independent study of aluminum cans was undertaken in part to respond to Walmart’s packaging scorecard, which calls for its suppliers in all sectors to reduce their carbon footprint.
The results confirm major reductions in the aluminum can’s carbon footprint and energy use over the last 17 years and have been provided to both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Walmart. Major findings include:
• Reduction in overall carbon footprint of the aluminum can by 44%
• 30% less energy usage
• 15% reduction in package weight
The comprehensive life-cycle study analyzes the entire production process—from bauxite mining to can manufacturing. The study incorporates the latest available information on energy and material consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and other environmental releases. The study examines the can manufacturing process using both the cradle-to-cradle closed-loop approach and the recycled-content approach. It conformed to ISO methodology and was peer-reviewed by independent experts.
In addition to being posted on the association’s website, the results and supporting data have been provided to the EPA, where they will be used to update the existing Life-Cycle Inventory database and the agency’s Waste Reduction Model.
“The study also confirmed our belief that the key to continuing to improve the carbon footprint of the aluminum can is to increase recycling rates,” says Pat Persico, manager of corporate communications for Novelis and chair of The Aluminum Association’s Can Committee. She notes that the aluminum industry is committed to a goal to increase the recycling rate to 75% by 2015, up from its current rate of 54. %.
The study is publicly available at www.aluminum.org/lca.