Environmental management

In the German aluminium industry today, there is a well-organised process at plant level for considering the environmental impact of any actions taken, with clearly defined responsibilities all the way up to top management. A well-developed environment-management system ensures that the demands for environmental protection are considered systematically at all stages of planning, execution and monitoring, and that any weaknesses are rectified at an early stage.

Aim is continuous process optimisation

An important aspect of the industry’s activities is production-oriented environmental protection, which results from the need to comply with any restrictions associated with planning permission and to keep emissions within legal limits. The last few years have witnessed the growing emergence of plant-level environmental policies – in addition to legal requirements – that regard environmental protection as a mission with self-imposed objectives. Using eco-audits, for example, one can define targets, tools and measures to reduce the environmental impact of production still further.

Employees are also encouraged to actively participate in this process. A good idea that benefits the environment and benefits employees financially. An internal suggestion scheme is a good way of motivating employees to reduce the impact on the environment.

Systematic environmental controlling

Photo: fotolia/Smileus

The systematic collection of data of relevance to the environment has asserted itself at product level. Companies can therefore determine what effects they are having on the environment and continually optimise their products and processes. It is essential here to consider the environmental relevance of products over their whole life-cycle. This means broadening the angle of view so that the focus is not only on one’s own location or process. In fact, one can also extend one’s own activities to the product and through to the consumer. Sustainable development does not cease outside one’s front door: it starts there, takes utilisation into consideration and finishes with recycling. Photo credit: fotolia/Smileus

Big picture versus tunnel view

Life-cycle assessments

Using the right packaging to prevent climate change

Comparing the transport of beverages makes it clear that compared with returnable glass bottles the use of aluminium stand-up pouches means almost twice as much content can be transported within the same space; emissions can thus be reduced considerably.


Interesting fact

GDA library

Books and articles of relevance to aluminium have been collected since the 1930s. The GDA library is open to the public and besides literature on aluminium it also contains information on magnesium and titanium. The library's archives contain one of the most extensive collections of information on aluminium.


Environmental management

Responsibility for the environment

Bauxite mining areas are rehabilitated systematically by the aluminium industry. Some 70 per cent of the area is reforested, 20 per cent is used for forestry or agricultural purposes and ten per cent is developed for residential, recreational and industrial areas.