• 27 – 29 September 2022
  • Exhib. Centre Düsseldorf

“The ASI community is growing every day”

September 19, 2022
Düsseldorf

What is the significance of the standards and certifications of the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative in the industry? A conversation with ASI CEO Fiona Solomon about the organization's growth and goals, measures against greenwashing, and the need to take the broadest possible view of sustainability.

ALUMINIUM: It is undisputed that aluminum is a material that is excellently suited for the circular economy. To what extent can standards help here in principle?

Fiona Solomon: While aluminium is a relatively strong performer in recycling, there is still much more to be done to support broader circular economy transitions. Issues addressed by ASI Standards include approaches to life cycle assessments, integrating sustainability in product design, better management of aluminium process scrap, and improving collection and recycling of products at end of life.

Beyond aluminium, waste streams such as bauxite residue, dross and spent pot lining also ultimately need to be addressed within a circular economy approach – with economically viable technologies still needing development. ASI Standards require companies to regularly review best available technologies and alternatives to disposal. In broad terms, standards define key issues and a roadmap for improvement – and are regularly reviewed and updated. The latest versions of ASI’s Standards were published in May 2022.

 

ALUMINIUM: What is your impression of the response from the industry? Or rather: In which areas of the value chain is ASI most likely to be welcomed – and where less so?

Solomon: ASI has had strong uptake from bauxite mining through to semi-fabrication and some material conversion activities, particularly packaging. ASI membership has grown from 13 organisations in 2015 to over 250 in August 2022, and continues to attract interest from new and potential members. Sectors where ASI could grow further include building and construction, which is a significant user of aluminium products.

 

"In broad terms, standards define key issues and a roadmap for improvement – and are regularly reviewed and updated."

 

ASI has achieved recognitions by LEED and BREEAM for responsible sourcing components of their green building standards, and is also working with other building schemes. We are also working on engagement with the financial sector, and other downstream aluminium use sectors. Our goal is to be the go-to platform for responsible production, sourcing and stewardship of aluminium throughout the whole value chain.

 

ALUMINIUM: To what extent is greenwashing a problem in the aluminum industry?

Solomon: Greenwashing is a potential problem in all industries, and scrutiny and action against this is rightly escalating. Misleading claims create reputational, legal and regulatory risk, particularly when other organisations rely on this information for their own decision-making or action. 

ASI takes care to carefully define key terms used in its standards and has a Claims Guide that regulates what types of claims can be made about ASI membership and Certification. In the 2022 Standards, released in May, there is increasing emphasis on consistent and accurate disclosure, including but not limited to GHG emissions.  More broadly, reporting standards for ESG metrics and regulated disclosures are on the rise which similarly have specific requirements regarding governance, risk management, metrics/targets and strategy.

© Aluminium Stewardship Initiative

Fiona is the Chief Executive Officer of the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI), which she joined in March 2015, with responsibility for strategic, financial, governance and operational leadership of the organisation. She also acts as ASI's Company Secretary.

Her career has specialised in building new and innovative initiatives in mineral supply chains over more than twenty years.  She was previously Director – Standards Development at the Responsible Jewellery Council from 2007 to 2015, where she developed a certification program for gold, diamonds and platinum group metals which has been adopted by more than 1000 companies across the supply chain from mine to retail.

She has served as a Board Member of the ISEAL Alliance and a founding member of the OECD’s Multi-Stakeholder Steering Group for responsible mineral supply chains.  From 1997, Fiona worked for ten years at Australia’s CSIRO, leading research into mining and sustainability, and was also seconded to WWF to manage a multi-stakeholder project on the feasibility of mine-site certification.

She has a Bachelors degree (Hons 1) in mechanical engineering, a PhD in philosophy of technology, and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

ALUMINIUM: ASI has relatively high goals. How satisfied are you with the current state of development? Where do you currently see the greatest need for improvement?

Solomon: The ASI community is growing every day and we can be collectively pleased with the engagement and implementation since the Certification program launched in December 2017. However, our work is not over. There are major sustainability challenges along the value chain, and there are always improvement opportunities for every organisation – whether an ASI member or ASI itself. For our part, we have been growing our team to increase capacity for our various workstreams and aim to innovate and increase efficiencies in our data management and overall digital approach.

 

ALUMINIUM: Can ASI also serve as a role model for other materials in the industry?

ASI has engaged with a range of general and commodity-specific initiatives, and we are always happy to share our approach and insights to support action on sustainability issues.

 

"There are major sustainability challenges along the value chain, and there are always improvement opportunities for every organisation – whether an ASI member or ASI itself."

 

ALUMINIUM: ASI addresses ethical, ecological and social aspects of sustainability. Mostly, however, this is understood to mean only the ecological aspect – Is this also the case in your case?

Solomon: Definitely not! We are very focused on taking a broad view of the sustainability landscape – the scope of the ASI Performance Standard demonstrates this. We highlight four key sustainability priorities which are actually inter-related: climate, circularity, nature-positive and human rights. There are ethical, social and ecological dimensions to each of these. For example, in the climate area, consider the issues associated with a ‘just transition’: maximizing the social and economic opportunities of climate action, while minimising and carefully managing any challenges.

 

ALUMINIUM: How do you counter the fear that the high ASI standards could pose a problem for smaller companies?

Solomon: There can be advantages and disadvantages for both large and small companies when they are implementing standards across their organisations. Small companies often have management closer to the business operations, and management systems can be simpler and scaled to the size and type of business. The challenges for smaller companies often lie in learning new topics and approaches, often without being able to have specialists on staff.

Several small- and medium-size members have achieved ASI Certification and we are working to gather lessons learned from their certification journey. In addition, ASI’s educationAL learning platform and supporting Guidance for the Standards aim to provide direction on how to get started, and we are always keen to hear how we can support members in making change, regardless of the size of their organisation.