Last year Capral Aluminium introduced its lower-carbon aluminium option, LocAl, to the market – which has since skyrocketed the company’s path towards more sustainable projects.
LocAl includes two lower carbon aluminium options; LocAl Green with carbon emissions of 8kg carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e)/kg Al, and LocAl Super Green at 4kg CO2e/kg Al, which is among the lowest carbon aluminium available globally. Typically, the global average for carbon emissions per kilogram of aluminium is 16.8kg, which Capral slashed in half in the LocAl Green product and reduced by 75 per cent in Super Green.
General Manager of Supply & Industrial Solutions, Luke Hawkins, says the industry’s call for a more sustainable solution allowed Capral to develop the answer.
“We were able to launch the LocAl product towards the end of 2022. This comes as a result of a deliberate shift in our procurement strategy to source more sustainable primary aluminium and where possible to work with smelters that are ASI-certified,” he says. “This allows customers to make a choice for a much more sustainable and lower carbon product and ensure that their entire truck build is more sustainable, not just the operation of the vehicle.”
The Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) is a global non-profit organisation which brings together producers, users and stakeholders like Capral in the aluminium value chain. ASI members are committed to the responsible procurement and sustainable production of aluminium, and because of this ASI has become the cornerstone of sustainable aluminium procurement for the world’s leading aluminium organisations.
According to Luke, Capral was searching for a lower embodied carbon option for two years before it uncovered the solution to sustainable primary billet sourcing.
“It’s now something that truck and trailer manufacturers are able to offer to their end clients, and potentially even further downstream to whoever the truck is actually servicing,” he says. “At Capral, we want to be ready to help forward-thinking businesses in the transport sector get ahead of the curve, making access to lower carbon extruded aluminium products possible for these manufacturers. It’s ready, all our customers need to do is ask.”
Capral officially announced its commitment to reaching Net Zero emissions by 2050 on 1 June 2022 which it said at the time would drive rapid innovation and cultural evolution throughout the industry. Additionally, the introduction of LocAl in November further demonstrated the deliberate shift in Capral’s procurement strategy.
Aluminium is often regarded as a sustainable metal by many due to its versatility and recyclability, but there are significant variations in the carbon emissions generated by smelters during the production of primary aluminium – meaning that some aluminium may be more sustainable than others.
The main contribution to aluminium’s carbon emissions comes from the electrolysis process used in aluminium smelting. Around 60 per cent of the aluminium sector’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions are from the production of electricity consumed during the aluminium smelting process. Thus, General Manager – Marketing & Technology, Michael OKeefe, who oversees Capral’s National Sustainability Committee, says the priority is to tackle the issue directly.
“Our focus is very much on eliminating the source of emissions and we intend to do this by improving our plant and equipment, implementing new technologies and embracing more sustainable practices across our organisation,” he says. “By working with our upstream supply partners, we will continue to look for options to incorporate more low carbon aluminium in our value chain and where feasible embrace circularity principles.”
According to Michael, 22 per cent of the primary aluminium billet Capral used in its eight local extrusion presses in 2022 had a carbon content lower than 8kg CO2e/kg Al, and approximately 300 tonnes had a certified carbon content lower than four kilograms.
“This is a strategic change for Capral, driven by our desire to make lower carbon aluminium accessible to Australian manufacturers,” he says. The market is looking for this product, and as Australia’s largest extruder of aluminium, we must make it available.
“We have an absolute commitment to our staff, customers, stakeholders and the communities within which our facilities operate to ensure we are eliminating sources of emissions within the value chain of our business. Organisations around the world are recognising that this is a decision that cannot wait any longer and Capral is no different, we are proud to make this commitment and confident in our ability to achieve it.”