Material Use & Recycling

2012 results 

Click on the following links to view the graphs and related notes


Landfilled waste  


Spent pot lining


Casthouse dross


Case studies
ICI ON RECYCLE Performance level, and special mentions by MDDEP

Our suppliers: Partners in environmental conservation

Québec smelters achieve recycling rate of nearly 90% for spent pot lining

All case studies

Waste management


More detailed notes accompany graphs, at right.


Our approach to waste management is to reduce waste generation wherever possible. When waste generation is unavoidable, we attempt to reuse the waste ourselves or make it practical for others to use. A regional committee made up of representatives from each Alcoa Canada Global Primary Products facility identifies and shares solutions to decrease landfilling.


The spent lining of electrolytic cells (pots) is the largest source of waste generated by an aluminum smelter. A leader in finding optimal ways to transform this type of waste, Alcoa supplies spent pot lining to a number of plants worldwide (including cement plants), which use them as a fuel source or mineralizer. In 2010, we implemented solutions that enabled us to significantly increase our recycling and revalorization rates for the spent pot lining produced in Québec. Waste products that cannot be recycled or valorized are sent to Alcoa’s Gum Springs plant for treatment and disposal. In 2012, we will be working on increasing recycling and recovery rates across North America.


Managing the waste produced by an aluminum smelter also involves the treatment of a by-product called casthouse dross. Primarily composed of aluminum, it is recycled internally or by external suppliers, who extract the aluminum content and recycle or landfill the remaining waste products. In 2008, one of our suppliers closed down its operations, which resulted in an increase in the amount of this waste product sent to landfill. That said, we are currently reviewing opportunities to reduce the amount of casthouse dross produced and to recycle as much as possible.


In addition to spent pot lining and casthouse dross, our plants also generate some waste products that are landfilled because there is currently no other solution. We are actively seeking other avenues for these waste products in an effort to achieve our waste landfilled reduction targets.



The Québec Government has established a recognition program called ICI ON RECYCLE! (HERE WE RECYCLE) to encourage stakeholders to achieve the goals of its waste management policy regarding metals, paper and cardboard, wood, plastics, and perishable goods. All four Alcoa Canada Global Primary Products facilities and the Alcoa Canada head office in Montréal are certified under this program.


The Bécancour Rod Plant received a special mention for source reduction along with the renewal of its certificate in 2012. Our three smelters should see their 2009 certificates renewed in 2013.


In addition, Alcoa has committed to promoting ICI ON RECYCLE! among its suppliers. A waste management training program was offered to suppliers in the winter of 2012.