By Felicity Carus | 19 October 2012
Extractive industries have a bad reputation when it comes to sustainability, but as demand continues, one company says it is actively looking ‘beyond compliance’ to reduce its environmental impact.
Chances are the Coca-Cola can you drank from at lunchtime, the plane that flew you on your last holiday and the iPad on which you might be reading this article were made with metal from Alcoa, the world’s third largest aluminium company.
Aluminium is so energy intensive that it is often described as “solid electricity”. Smelters account for around 3.5% of global electricity consumption, but it is difficult to imagine the modern world without this ubiquitous mineral.
By definition, extractive industries are also environmentally and socially invasive and can cause shining sustainability targets to lose their lustre in the mines, smelters and manufacturing processes. But under Kevin Anton, the company’s first chief sustainability officer (CSO) since 2010, Alcoa claims it is leading the industry in a cleaner, greener direction.