Product Design and Life Cycle Assessment

Québec’s product carbon footprint pilot project

We believe world markets will increasingly demand authentically green products as defined by cradle to cradle design philosophy. Life cycle assessment allows us to evaluate how a product can be optimized at every step of its life, from design to manufacturing, use, recovery and recycling. It is, therefore, a powerful tool for assessing how we can improve and better design products. For this reason, Alcoa established an internal Center of Excellence for life cycle analysis in 2010 to analyze products and processes.


In 2010, primary aluminum produced by Alcoa around the world was certified Cradle to CradleMD Silver level by McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry. This multi-faceted certification evaluates the safety of a product for humans and the environment, as well as its design, using a life cycle approach.


In 2012, Alco Canada Global Primary Metals participated in the Government of Québec’s Empreinte Carbone pilot project to evaluate GHG emissions associated with the production of one pure aluminum ingot in Québec.


In addition, a life cycle study reviewed by a third party was conducted at the request of Alcoa Inc. in 2012 to assess the impact of using aluminum wheels on commercial vehicles (Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of Aluminium and Steel Truck Wheels).


The Alcoa Foundation has granted US$350,000 over a three-year period (2011-2013) to École Polytechnique de Montréal to support its development of the ImpactWorld+ project, a new global model for life cycle impact assessment. This donation was made under the Advancing Sustainability Research: Innovative Partnerships for Actionable Solutions program, a US$4 million Alcoa Foundation initiative to fund 10 projects in sustainability research in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Europe, Russia and the United States. The ImpactWorld+ method was launched in beta version in May, 2012, and validation tests are underway.