Aluminium cans

From bauxite to beverage cans

Using blockchain to help trace our responsible materials

Last updated: 18 December 2023


Aluminium undergoes a huge transformation from a red bauxite rock to the metal found everywhere in life.

It’s mined, refined and smelted. It travels on trucks and ships – sometimes thousands of kilometres. And finally, it’s shaped into everything from cans to cars. So, through all of that, how can you be confident the product you’ve just bought was made responsibly?

Understanding – and being able to trace – the full process is important as more and more consumers seek out products made sustainably. In fact, research by Deloitte suggests ethical and sustainability issues are a key driver for almost a third of consumers.

People want to know more about the products they buy, where they come from and how they were made. This is true for food, clothes – and our products are no exception.

To help our customers – and the consumers who buy their products – make informed decisions, we need to provide increased transparency and traceability across our entire supply chain.

So we created START – a digital blockchain initiative that provides traceable, transparent information about our products. START began with aluminium and is now expanding to cover more materials, including metal powders.

How START works

We use blockchain technology to verify the provenance of the material.

Each order is assigned a unique QR code, which customers can print on their products. Scanning the code opens a web page that details the source material’s complete journey from the ground to the finished product.

We call this our START label. It allows our customers to know the sustainability credentials of our products, all 14 sustainability metrics that we track from mining to actual production of our metal.

In future, you’ll just need to scan of a QR code on an aluminium drink can or a new electric car to see the credentials of all the metals used to make the product. Just like a nutritional label, but for products.

Aluminium stack

Tracking the materials the world needs from START to finish

Like a “nutrition label”, key information is provided across 14 criteria from mine to market:


Global warming potential, water management, renewable energy, recycled content, waste management, safety performance, contribution to communities, supplier due diligence, governance systems and diversity.

Through secure blockchain technology you can see where your materials come from, how they were made, and the environmental, social and governance standards followed during their production.

Rigorously and independently verified data

We collect the information used in START for our annual sustainability reporting.

Each of our sites provides data that is verified by our subject matter experts, and then reviewed by Health, Safety, Environment & Security and Communities & Social Performance teams as a second line of assurance. Our Board’s Sustainability Committee then reviews and signs it off, before an external auditor assures the greenhouse gas emissions information.

The blockchain itself also adds a level of security because it’s an independent digital record-keeping system. It collects information and stores it in “blocks”, which are all connected. Every time new information is collected, it is stored chronologically with time stamps, so information can’t be changed.

START builds on our existing assurance systems, like ASI and Copper Mark.

With increased scrutiny on the origin of materials and on climate change, we believe START will help customers respond to growing consumer expectations. Our goal is to demonstrate to customers and consumers that our responsibly produced and traceable products are the right materials for their needs.

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