The rapidly changing landscape of the European aluminum industry made 2013 a challenging year, especially for our refinery and smelters. High energy costs, costs associated with the aluminum sector entering into the European Union Emissions Trading System, the lowest metal price in four years, and volatile market developments were divergent forces that required our people to innovate, streamline, and improve our processes.
Results of their efforts in 2013 included the following;
- European sales increased from 25% of Alcoa’s global revenue in 2012 to 26% in 2013;
- Direct greenhouse gas emissions for all European businesses declined 4.4% in 2013 and 6.0% from the 2005 baseline, with respective 5.9% and 5.1% declines for Global Primary Products Europe;
- Our European smelters reduced absolute fluoride emissions by 34% and fluoride intensity by 11.5% compared to 2012;
- Energy intensity declined by 1% in 2013 compared to 2012, continuing a trend of year-over-year declines.
- All three of our key safety rates reached their best levels in five years.
- Alcoa and Alcoa Foundation invested US$5.4 million (€4.1 million) in the European communities in which we operate.
- Our employees volunteered 222,961 hours in their local communities, earning US$1.7 million (€1.3 million) for non-governmental organizations and nonprofits through Alcoa employee engagement programs; and
- Our locations earned numerous external awards for their operational and community achievements.
Despite these achievements, we had to make some difficult decisions in 2013. We permanently closed and started decommissioning a smelter in Italy and continued the full curtailment of our second smelter in that country. In Spain, we maintained the partial curtailment of two smelters.
These developments, as well as process disruptions and other challenges, resulted in some less-than-desired outcomes in our environmental performance. Compared to 2012, the intensity and volume of water used at our European locations increased, as did our landfilled waste, spent pot lining, and bauxite residue. We are taking steps to reverse these results in 2014.
In addition to the challenges we have faced, it is important to focus on the positive aspects. We have a tremendous group of highly skilled and dedicated people in the European region who have a great passion for our company and their work—a passion that is reflected in the achievements and results found in this sustainability report.