Enabling Biodiversity Protection in the Aluminium Sector: ASI’s approach
Aluminium production and use along the value chain, from bauxite mining to end-of-life recycling, has significant direct and indirect biodiversity impacts. Here’s what ASI is doing to improve biodiversity outcomes.
4 October 2023
What’s the issue?
Biodiversity is essential for the functioning of global ecosystems, the provision of ecosystem services, and is the foundation for human well-being, and the overall health of the planet. Protecting and conserving biodiversity is not only a moral and ethical imperative but also crucial for the long-term viability of life on Earth.
Aluminium production and use along the value chain, from bauxite mining to end-of-life recycling, has significant direct and indirect biodiversity impacts. For example, bauxite mining can entail habitat destruction, soil erosion, and water pollution, directly affecting ecosystems and wildlife. The energy-intensive processes involved in refining bauxite to alumina and aluminium smelting contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, indirectly impacting biodiversity through altered habitats and weather patterns. Finally, the disposal of aluminium production waste and products can contribute to landfill waste and contamination, further affecting local ecosystems.
Improving biodiversity outcomes along the aluminium value chain is not only a responsible choice but also a strategic one for organisations. Concerted efforts to protect biodiversity enhance company reputation, reduce supply-chain risks and support long-term sustainability.
What are we doing about it?
First, ASI seeks to enable aluminium industry actors to mitigate the significant biodiversity impacts occurring at various stages of aluminium production by taking a multi-stakeholder governance approach, actively integrating Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) including those with a biodiversity focus, into our decision-making processes. These organisations provide valuable insights and expertise in biodiversity impacts and conservation strategies through their participation on the ASI Board, in the Standards Committee, and in our Working Groups, which strengthens the relevance and applicability of ASI’s work in this area.
2. ASI Performance Standard criteria
ASI’s Performance Standard V3 (2022) represents a comprehensive framework for addressing environmental aspects associated with the aluminium value chain, including biodiversity. While Performance Standard Principle 8 on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services directly aligns with biodiversity conservation goals, all the principles from 5 to 8 collectively contribute to improving biodiversity outcomes. These include:
Greenhouse Gas Emissions (Principle 5): This principle focuses on the management and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions associated with bauxite mining and refining operations. By addressing emissions, the industry can contribute to mitigating climate change and reducing its environmental footprint.
Emissions, Effluents and Waste (Principle 6): Principle 6 emphasises the responsible management of emissions, effluents, and waste generated during the bauxite mining and refining process. Proper management of these outputs helps minimise their impact on air, water, and soil quality, thereby safeguarding ecosystems and human health.
Water Stewardship (Principle 7): This principle revolves around responsible water use and management within bauxite mining and refining operations. Ensuring sustainable water practices not only protects water resources but also supports the health of aquatic ecosystems and local communities that rely on them.
Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (Principle 8): Principle 8 directly addresses the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services in bauxite mining and refining areas. It encourages the protection and restoration of natural habitats, the preservation of species diversity, and the recognition of the broader benefits that ecosystems provide, such as pollination, water purification, and carbon sequestration. This principle is crucial for maintaining the ecological balance and overall sustainability of the environment impacted by these operations.
3. Nature-Positive sustainability priority
In addition, ASI has identified biodiversity – addressed through the concept of ‘nature positive’ – as one of its key sustainability priorities, which are issues we believe we can most contribute to driving change in the aluminium value chain to 2030.
Under this mantel, the Nature-Positive Working Group has been formed to work on various biodiversity-related aspects, including strengthening and refining Performance Standard Principle 8 (Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services) for application and implementation in alignment with the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. Among other activities, the Group will contribute to the:
- discourse around the TNFD Nature-Related Risk & Opportunity Management and Disclosure Framework,
- development of outcome-based criteria with measurement metrics,
- provision of guidance on disclosure, identification of high-risk areas/processes.
Where can you find more info?
Alongside its governance, Performance and Chain of Custody Standard criteria, and working group activities, ASI conducts 45-minute webinars that bring together industry experts, NGOs, and stakeholders to discuss best practices, share knowledge, and explore innovative solutions for biodiversity conservation in bauxite mining and other value chain activities. Explore our 45 Minutes on page here.
ASI members are also encouraged to access the Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (IBAT) tool to support the protection of biodiversity globally. This tool assists in the identification of critical habitats through their Species Threat Abatement and Restoration Metric (STAR), as well as providing a range of datasets defining areas of ecological value.
The resources listed below provide additional insights into biodiversity issues facing the aluminium sector and how ASI is working to support the industry to mitigate the adverse effects of its activities on ecosystems, and establish a way forward for actors along the entire aluminium value chain to contribute to the preservation of biodiversity and nature-positive outcomes.
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