Results & Objectives
The Aluminium Association of Canada also publishes a sustainability report.
Message from the President of Alcoa Canada
Moving forward in difficult times
As the current price of aluminum hovers just above the lowest point reached during the last financial crisis, we have had to temper some of our ambitious targets to reflect the economic reality.
Forced to decrease its aluminum production worldwide, Alcoa resigned itself last May to shut down the Baie-Comeau Smelter’s Söderberg plant sooner than planned. It also delayed, by three years, the start-up of the new pot lines that are to be part of the plant’s modernization. While they will now be fulfilled at a different pace, our investment commitments to the region stand firm. Today, like tomorrow, the smelter remains an important economic and social driver for Québec’s North Shore.
From an environmental perspective, this announcement is a positive one since, shutting down the Söderberg plant will mean an earlier than anticipated 40% réduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the Baie-Comeau Smelter.
This announcement took place after the end of 2012, the reporting year for the results presented in this document. Nonetheless, I chose to speak about it because of its importance, and because it demonstrates our commitment to move forward even in difficult times. In fact, our team scored numerous achievements in 2012 in every facet of sustainability.
With more than 3,000 employees and annual spin-offs of approximately $1.5 billion, Alcoa Canada Global Primary Products plays an essential role in Québec’s provincial and regional economies. We continuously strive to improve our performance by focusing on innovation, knowledge, R&D and partnerships.
Along with several partners, we created the Québec Aluminium Industrial Cluster, which aims to double the amount of aluminum transformed locally within the next ten years. Alcoa Innovation, an R&D partnership that we founded in 2008, is contributing its technical expertise to reaching the same goal.
Sustainability and operational optimization go hand and hand at Alcoa, and we are hoping to instill this same attitude in our suppliers and partners through joint initiatives like those we carried out last year based on the BNQ 21000 method.
A respect for the environment is embedded in our processes and procedures. That is why we were the first company to sign a voluntary GHG reduction agreement with the Government of Québec back in 2001.
Our 2012 emissions were 32% lower than those recorded in that baseline year, although various factors led to a slight increase compared to 2011.
Electricity is essential to our operations, so efficiency is an ongoing priority. Last year, the Baie-Comeau Smelter joined its two sister plants in becoming Elite members of Hydro-Québec’s Écolectrique network, which is made up of the province’s industrial energy efficiency leaders.
Eliminating landfilling remains one of our objectives, and we achieved an additional 7% decrease in 2012. This means that we have reduced the amount of waste going to landfill by 65% since 2005, excluding spent pot lining and casthouse dross, which we treat separately. Last year, we recycled 100% of the spent pot lining produced at our smelters, and 70% of the casthouse dross, an increasing amount of which is being recycled at our facilities.
The health and safety of our team is a core priority. Last year, we implemented a number of wellness initiatives. Despite a decrease in our recordable incident rate to only 0.26, the severity of one of those incidents, in which one of our colleagues lost his life, underscored the fact that zero is the only acceptable number. Consequently, we have doubled our efforts to identify and prevent serious risks so that such an incident will never reoccur.
Community engagement is one of our fundamental values. In 2012, participation in our volunteer support programs was high, and we successfully launched the Alcoans in Motion initiative, which combines physical fitness with charitable endeavours. In addition, Alcoa Foundation distributed nearly $725,000 to some 30 Québec organizations, mainly in its two Areas of Focus: the environment and education.
The Alcoa Sustainable Communities Fund, which totals $25 million over 25 years, created three Funds, one for each smelter. These Funds quickly formed a board of directors so they could begin their activities.
These are just a few examples of how sustainability is ingrained in our activities. You will find many others in the pages of this report. We invite you to contact us if you would like any additional information or to share your comments. The more people are involved, the more meaningful the process of sustainability becomes.
President, Alcoa Canada Global Primary Products