Life Cycle Inventory Report for the North American Aluminum Industry

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Organization: AA
Publication Date: 1 November 1998
Status: inactive
Page Count: 182


The design of a product is influenced by cost, performance, and environmental considerations. While cost and performance are dominant considerations, environmental factors are increasing in importance. The Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) of Primary and Secondary Aluminum Products, manufactured in North America, was initiated by the Aluminum Association, Inc. within this context. The intent of the study is to:

1) Provide the participating companies with detailed inventories of the various unit processes associated with aluminum production. This information was to provide a baseline for improvements in the management of energy and raw material use, waste elimination, and the reduction of air and water emissions from these unit processes.

2) Develop a comprehensive and up-to-date Life Cycle Inventory of primary and secondary aluminum products produced in North America, for the United States Advanced Material Partnership (USAMP) initiative of the United States Council for Automotive Research (USCAR). This study would follow the USAMP LCI Methodology(Footnote 1) developed by Roy F. Weston, Inc. (WESTON®) and ISO 14000 series(Footnote 2) Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) guidelines.

A key element of this study is the scope of the data gathering efforts. The results of this LCI study are based on input and output data of environmental relevance collected at production facilities. This information was gathered by the Aluminum Association, Inc. and Association de l'Industrie de l'Aluminium of Canada, from 13 primary and secondary aluminum producing companies in North America. The data was assessed in detail by both WESTON and the Aluminum Association LCA Task Force.

The collaborative aluminum industry effort was critiqued by a panel of external, recognized life cycle experts selected by USCAR steering committee. The peer review group was chaired by Kevin Brady(Footnote 3) and included Darryl Banks(Footnote 4), Lester Lave(Footnote 5), and Konrad Saur(Footnote 6). The comments of this group were extremely favorable with regard to the overall quality and scope of the aluminum industry LCI activity. Specifically, the group commended the aluminum industry on its attention to the methodology which had been previously established for the study, on the scope and comprehensive nature of the activity, and on the consistency and high quality of the data-sets.

Uses for the Study

Among other things, the results of this LCI study can be applied to :

1) Establish a database describing the resource consumption and environmental releases of materials and processes can be used by the Aluminum Association members.

2) Improve understanding of the environmental implications of aluminum product manufacture.

3) Facilitate assessment of the life cycle environmental inventory of alternative product design options (for example, alternative fuels, process design, etc.), compare corresponding data sets, and guide the evaluation of modifications for improvement.

4) Provide environmental information for use in strategic planning.


The participants in this study recognize the potential for misuse of the database and results. Therefore, it is noted that the inventory database and results shall not be:

• used as the sole criteria in raw material selection decisions;

• quoted or published without prior consent of The Aluminum Association, Inc., except in the case where a participant(Footnote 7), or designate, wished to quote or publish their own submission of data, or

• used as a basis for impact assessment.

Footnote 1 - USCAR/USAMP Generic Automobile Life Cycle Inventory Methodology document developed by Roy F. Weston, Inc., 1997

Footnote 2 - Draft International Standard ISO/DIS 14041 on Environmental Management - Life Cycle Assessment - Goal and Scope definition and Inventory Analysis, 1997.

Footnote 3 - Kevin Brady, Demeter Environmental Inc., 29 Prom Crescent, Aylmer, Quebec J9H 1T2, Canada.

Footnote 4 - R. Darryl Banks, Program Director, Program in Technology and the Environment, World Resource Institute, 1709 New York Ave. NW, Washington DC 20006.

Footnote 5 - Lester Lave, Director, Green Design Initiative, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Footnote 6 - Konrad Saur, Director, LCE-Department, PE Product Engineering GmbH, Kirchheimer StrOe 76, 73265 Dettingen/Teck, Germany.

Footnote 7 - The Aluminum Association member companies that participated in this study include: Alcan Aluminum, Ltd., Alumax, Inc., Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA), Commonwealth Aluminum, Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Corporation, Century Aluminum Corporation, Reynolds Metals Company, Southwire Company, Wabash Alloys, and Werner Company. The members of Association de l'Industrie de l'Aluminium of Canada that participated include: Aluminerie Alouette Inc., Aluminerie de BĂ©cancour, Inc., Aluminerie Lauralco Inc., and Canadian Reynolds Metals, Inc.

Document History

November 1, 1998
Life Cycle Inventory Report for the North American Aluminum Industry
Purpose The design of a product is influenced by cost, performance, and environmental considerations. While cost and performance are dominant considerations, environmental factors are increasing in...