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Metals customers now need specific sustainability product data: LME webinar

Highlights

80% of EV carbon footprint seen materials-related

Producers urged to collaborate

Rapid uptake of LMEpassport

Miners' footprint includes water usage

Metals customers need specific sustainability data on the products they buy to be able to develop their sustainability pathways, a leading aluminum producer told the London Metal Exchange Sustainability Forum Oct. 14.

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"It's product-level data that the customer wants, rather than knowing about their supplier's overall corporate footprint, which may be delivered at PR level," Jerome Lucaes, marketing director of Russian aluminum producer Rusal, told the virtual webinar organized as part of LME Week.

Lucaes called transparency the vital blood of the supply chain, particularly in supply contracts.

Rusal describes itself as the world's largest producer of low-carbon aluminum.

Eighty percent of the carbon footprint of an electric vehicle comes from the materials that make up the car, according to Lucaes, while in the case of aluminum beverage cans, 85% of major brewer AmBev's carbon footprint comes from its supply chain, he said.

"We all need to get to zero carbon by 2050," Lucaes said. " ..: We're all part of an ecosystem and have a collective responsibility. There's no way anyone will achieve this challenge on their own ... and everyone needs to know where their material is coming from."

Rapid uptake of LMEpassport

The recently launched LMEpassport, a digital provenance register to establish metal units' sustainability characteristics, is expected to be instrumental in encouraging companies to provide the data needed, according to Jamie Gartside, LME product development manager.

"This needs to be accessible to all users and provide data in real time," Gartside said, stressing this is designed to be a live interface between producers, traders and consumers. LMEpassport went live Aug. 31 and has more than 150 users, with more than 3,000 certificates of analysis uploaded to the system, as well as sustainability disclosures.

To date, over 230,000 casts of metals have been registered on LMEpassport.

"We're thrilled with this early adoption," Gartside said.

Importance of aluminum recycling

Recycled aluminum now accounts for more than one-third of total aluminum consumption, Pernelle Nunez, the International Aluminium Institute's deputy secretary general, director-sustainability, told the event. Recycling alone could help reduce the sector's carbon emissions levels by 20% by 2050, and it is envisaged that by that date the aluminum market may be operating with around 50% primary metals and 50% recycled materials, she said.

An increasing high level of post-consumer scrap -- from packaging, transport and other applications -- could allow some 300 million mt of greenhouse gas emissions to be avoided per year, Nunez said.

Closed loop recycling initiatives involving aluminum producers and carmakers, and separately, canmakers, are becoming more important as sustainability strategies, she said.

Since 1970, some 3 trillion aluminum cans may already have been recycled worldwide, with an overall 70% recycling rate, which is a great success story for the industry, Nunez said.

In coming years, more extrusion scrap from end-of-life buildings can be expected to come on stream, with a notable increase around 2040-2050, she said.

Copper producer: water use crucial

René Aguilar, vice president of sustainability and corporate affairs at Antofagasta Minerals, which produces copper in Chile, said a company's footprint is not only about carbon emissions but also about how companies use water.

In addition, ESG is no longer only for the ESG team of a company: companies need to work collaboratively, not only internally, but as groups of producers, he stressed.