How do you make a nutrition label for aluminium?
By tracing the steps from START to finish
Last updated: 4 February 2022
Whether it’s coffee, clothes or phones, we all want to know the stories behind the products we buy. Were workers treated fairly? Was the environment cared for? Were steps taken to save water?
Aluminium is no different: our customers – and theirs – want to know the metal in their product is made in a responsible way.
To help meet growing demand for transparency and traceability of the products we buy, we created START. Like a “nutrition label” for aluminium, it tracks key information about where and how it was produced.
The first of its kind in the industry, START uses secure blockchain technology to provide information on ten criteria: carbon footprint, water use, recycled content, energy sources, community investment, safety performance, diversity in leadership, business integrity, regulatory compliance and transparency. This information is readily accessible via the START platform, where customers can view sustainability insights and manage orders.
More than 100 of our customers have signed up for START in an effort to decarbonise or meet their sustainability goals.
How is aluminium made?
Aluminium is made from bauxite, or aluminium ore. Bauxite is the basic raw material that is refined into alumina, which in turn is sent to smelters for processing into aluminium. START tracks this whole process, so our customers can have confidence in the product they’re buying.
How START works
START shows how aluminium has been made: products like smartphones, cars and drink cans can be traced back to the country of origin in a fast and secure way.
By using blockchain technology we deliver information in a transparent and traceable way to our customers. Blockchain is a kind of digital record-keeping system: it collects information and stores it in “blocks” connected in a chronological chain. With every action – like bauxite being refined into alumina, for example – a new block is created. And every block is time stamped, ensuring information can’t be changed.
We defined the ten criteria in START after researching what was relevant to the market. We collect the primary data from our operations as part of our annual sustainability reporting, and it’s verified by our subject matter experts and our Board’s Sustainability Committee. Then we provide the information to a third-party lifecycle assessment consultant who adds secondary data from industry-leading databases to create the START lifecycle assessment.
Each order of aluminium is assigned a unique QR code, which customers can print on their products. By scanning the code, consumers are taken to a web page that details the journey from the ground to the finished product.
And when you can see how the aluminium is made, you’re empowered to make a more sustainable choice.
Banner image: James Yarema
- Sustainability label - a scannable label providing transparency, traceability and provenance across ten environment, social and governance criteria
- Sustainability insights - comparisons against the industry average or other product alternatives
- Sustainability letter - a summary of START Responsible Aluminium compared with alternatives