Case Studies

These case studies illustrate how Alcoa is acting upon its commitment to sustainable development throughout the world. We are pleased with this progress, but look forward to achieving even more.

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Refilling a centerless grinder with the new lubricant

 

Germany - 2008

City-Initiated Sustainability Initiative Reduces Environmental Impact, Costs

 

Through participation in a city-initiated sustainability initiative called Ökoprofit, Alcoa's Hildesheim, Germany, location decreased its environmental impact, improved relationships with local stakeholders, and achieved more than US$136,000 (€92,000) in annual cost savings.

Originally an initiative of the Austrian city of Graz but since adopted by other cities, the Ökoprofit project is aimed at integrating sustainability into business. Participating companies reduce their environmental impact while maintaining profitability by establishing community partnerships between local governments and companies, sharing knowledge, and copying best practices in the field of environmental sustainability.

The City of Hildesheim launched its Ökoprofit project in late 2006, and Alcoa's location became one of 14 initial participants. After evaluating various improvement ideas, the facility focused on the following three:

  • Replacing a chlorine-based cooling lubricant with one that did not contain chlorine, which destroyed the plastic components of the location's production equipment and posed potential health impacts;
  • Installing a new re-cooling system and optimizing rinsing baths, which reduced annual freshwater consumption by approximately 1,000 cubic meters (264,000 gallons); and
  • Using both sides of a piece of paper, saving approximately 20,000 sheets annually

"The ecological and economic successes that Alcoa achieved through this project were very remarkable," said Friederike Könneker, who is responsible for enterprise support for Hildesheim City Council's Department for Business Development. "As a large company, Alcoa is serving as an innovation example for other businesses. I hope it will remain on this path and that environmental management will continue to develop into a major component of the company's culture."

Alcoa was not alone in achieving success under the Ökoprofit project. The 14 participating companies implemented a total of 90 improvement measures, leading to annual savings of almost US$1 million (€677,000). Annual electricity use and fuel consumption was reduced by approximately 4.74 million kilowatt hours, helping cut the total carbon dioxide emissions from the participating companies by more than 1.14 million kilograms (2.5 million pounds).