For our owners, we have a responsibility to deliver value. For our employees, we aim to offer reliable employment, fair working conditions, and a safe work environment. For our customers, we are responsible for the quality of our products and services, meaning meeting the customers’ specifications related to alloy type, chemistry, quantity, and time of delivery. Additionally, we recognize our responsibility to develop sustainability solutions, prevent the waste of natural resources and energy, as well as to carefully manage our emissions and releases into the environment. These are mere starting points for a long journey. But we see our entire industry transforming from being cost-oriented to sustainability-oriented – a transformation demanded by both society and customers.
At REAL ALLOY, our mission is to capture the inherent economic value of recycled aluminum by offering environmentally responsible processing solutions.
We understand today’s imperative for sustainable resources and are proud to supply our customers with high-quality recycled aluminum. In comparison to primary aluminum, the production of our alloys requires much less energy and results in far lower CO2 emissions.
This process-based advantage is complemented by continual improvement of our operations, efficient and intelligent sourcing, and development alongside the entire recycling value chain. These efforts will help us to further reduce our ecological footprint and successfully work towards sustainability.
Terrance J. Hogan
President and CEO
This is our first sustainability report designed to meet the requirements of the Aluminum Stewardship Initiative (ASI). REAL ALLOY became a Production and Transformation member of ASI in November of 2019, and now we aim to achieve our first North American certification at our Coldwater, MI, locations.
The report uses the ASI Performance Standard with its three overall chapters of Environment, Social, and Governance as a reference and covers our operations in North America. Data provided in the report is for 2021 unless otherwise specified.
REAL ALLOY is a market leader in third-party aluminum recycling and specification alloy production. We convert aluminum scrap and by-products into reusable aluminum metal for a growing number of applications across various industries.
Our customers can choose from an extensive range of cast and wrought alloys made from aluminum scrap and metal, delivered to their door in the form of molten metal, Recycled Secondary Ingots (RSI), small ingots, or cones. With 16 production facilities in three countries in North America, REAL ALLOY is ideally positioned to respond to the needs of an increasingly recycling-conscious world. Advanced technologies enable us to process a large variety of scrap types. Therefore, our products are manufactured with low CO2 footprints. This report summarizes the efforts towards sustainability at REAL ALLOY.
REAL ALLOY’s employees are spread across 16 production sites and the headquarters in North America, yet they are all united by the REAL ALLOY mission: to responsibly capture the inherent economic value of aluminum recycling solutions. We share a passion for excellence and are committed to integrity and accountability. At each site, our teams foster an environment of trust and empowerment, where good ideas are encouraged and setbacks are viewed as learning opportunities. Always tuned in to the bigger picture, we are motivated by a strong sense of responsibility towards our colleagues, customers, suppliers, other business partners, and our communities.
Our values define what we stand for. In addition, our policies provide a framework and direction and set clear expectations on an ethical and responsible approach to business, not only for all our managers and employees but also for our suppliers. They describe how we operate and what we expect from ourselves. Among these REAL ALLOY policies are:
Respect for human rights, including women’s rights and labor rights, is essential to our corporate culture. We have a clear commitment to legal compliance and strictly oppose any form of discrimination, harassment, child labor or forced labor, or any other unethical behavior. By joining the ASI in November 2019, we have made a clear commitment to sustainability.
To this end, we have strengthened our organization by allocating additional resources to both sustainability and environmental groups.
“Sustainability means meeting the needs of today without jeopardizing the needs of future generations. Effective energy and resource management are keys to protecting the environment and limiting climate impacts. Leveraging the inherent benefits of aluminum recycling, we provide a low-carbon material solution. REAL ALLOY is committed to improving the impacts of our operations as we embrace a sustainable vision with our customers.”
Terrance J. Hogan
President and CEO
We seek to outperform our competition fairly and honestly. We seek competitive advantages through superior performance and processes, never through unethical or illegal business practices.
It is our strong commitment to comply with all applicable international, national, and local laws and regulations; contractual agreements; and internationally recognized standards. Our practices conform to generally accepted industry standards. We obtain, maintain, and keep up to date on all applicable permits, certificates, licenses, and registrations.
REAL ALLOY expects its employees, contractors, and business partners to refrain from unethical or illegal business practices such as offering or giving any person bribes, preferential benefits, and kickbacks, or soliciting or accepting any bribes, preferential benefits, and kickbacks. The laws to adhere to include the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) as well as all applicable anti-corruption laws in each country of business activities.
Anti-corruption laws, as well as the REAL ALLOY Code of Conduct, prohibit offering or giving anything of value, directly or indirectly, to any government official to influence decisions or the performance of official functions to obtain or retain business or secure any improper advantage. These laws, as well as our Code of Conduct, also prohibit making improper payments to persons who are not government officials, known as “commercial bribery.” We also demand this compliance from our business partners, as REAL ALLOY may be held liable for their actions.
In our Code of Conduct, we detail how we expect our employees to act responsibly and in compliance with the law. REAL ALLOY’s Code of Conduct references human rights, including women’s rights and labor rights. We are committed to providing a work environment that is free of unlawful discrimination and harassment.
REAL ALLOY expects all employees to treat one another with respect, dignity, and professionalism. The Company will not tolerate discrimination or harassment in any form directed toward employees, applicants, contractors, customers, vendors, or others on the basis of an individual’s race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, or any other characteristic protected by applicable law.
REAL ALLOY’s corporate culture embodies the principles of transparency and respect for others. Our ability to operate efficiently and sustainably in the North American market requires consistent and professional communication. We adhere, therefore, to the principles of transparency, honesty, and accountability when interacting with our stakeholders.
This 2021 Sustainability Report marks a new level of transparency as REAL ALLOY aligns with the reporting requirements detailed by the ASI.
REAL ALLOY is committed to building a culture of trust where stakeholders are comfortable asking questions, raising concerns, and reporting suspected violations. Internally, concerns and complaints can be raised with the employee’s supervisor. However, if an individual feels uncomfortable, the issue can be addressed to HR, Legal, or the compliance hotline. Through the hotline hosted by an external party, employees can anonymously raise their concerns.
Grievance or complaint mechanisms are important to the relationship between REAL ALLOY’s operations and its surrounding communities. Grievances may be of any kind, including social and environmental issues. The Company strives for easy addressability – to solve issues before they become bigger problems. Meetings with local stakeholders, such as neighbors, local politicians, and citizen associations, should allow a continuous exchange of information in both directions. Stakeholders may contact any production site or our corporate headquarters to raise grievances using the contact information available on our website. Grievances are internally routed to the appropriate function and level to be addressed.
Aluminum is a light material with a high degree of strength. It is corrosion-resistant, an excellent conductor of heat, and easily molded and processed. These qualities make aluminum suitable for intelligent product solutions and commercial applications.
In the mobility sectors especially, aluminum allows for lightweight solutions, thus saving emissions and energy in the use of vehicles, trains, aircraft, etc. Moreover, the unique properties of aluminum are unaffected by the recycling process, so that aluminum can be reused countless times with no loss of quality. Best of all, the recycling process for aluminum is significantly more energy and CO2 efficient than its primary production. Recycling aluminum requires only about 5% of the energy needed for primary aluminum production, resulting in a similar improvement in CO2 emissions. This makes recycling aluminum a must-do in terms of sustainability.
REAL ALLOY’s recycling of aluminum into new input materials for industrial production is an important contribution towards a circular economy. Recycling helps preserve natural resources and minerals as well as energy while maintaining the highest quality of recycled products.
REAL ALLOY has the knowledge, experience, and technical equipment to recycle a large variety of different raw materials, whether generated from production processes or available as post-consumer scrap. These include turnings, cuttings, foils, shredded scrap, skimmings, and drosses. They can be converted into different shapes and quality grades to meet the needs of customers in a wide variety of industry segments. We deliver these highly versatile alloys in molten and solid ingot forms. Molten aluminum is delivered directly to the customer in specially designed crucibles. This reduces metal losses due to oxidation and helps our customers save significant amounts of energy that they would otherwise require to melt solid input material. Just-in-time molten metal delivery also reduces production complexity for our customers and helps them improve their process efficiency. Solid aluminum is produced according to customer demands in line with quality and chemical specifications while also presenting a low CO2 footprint.
REAL ALLOY is a member of various trade associations within the aluminum recycling industry. This includes memberships with the Aluminum Association (AA), the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), and the American Foundry Society (AFS).
Members of the management team and corporate experts participate in committees and task forces, engage in relevant discussions, and contribute to sharing and learning efforts. We report data and information to these associations to support industry-wide efforts toward improved transparency and sustainability.
Recycling of aluminum existed long before the circular economy became a major trend. Used aluminum parts, alloys, and scrap are not only too valuable to dispose of, but they are also great for reprocessing and reusing. Recycling aluminum is much more efficient than producing it from raw materials. Remelting consumes only about 5% of the energy needed for primary production. In addition, aluminum loses none of its properties through recycling. This has two advantages; the metal retains its value and can be reprocessed as often as is desired. Recycled alloys are, therefore, the logical choice for environmentally conscious customers who want greater efficiency in their metal supply.
With decades of experience, state-of-the-art technologies, and the constant development of new and environmentally friendly processes, REAL ALLOY can provide the best possible aluminum recycling solutions while consuming as little energy and as few additives as possible. The low-energy footprint, in comparison with primary metals, has also reduced the carbon footprint of our metal. Recycled aluminum is therefore ideal for all customers aiming to reduce the carbon and climate impact in their supply chain. As a member of the Aluminum Association (AA), REAL ALLOY actively participated and contributed to AA’s work around a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) for aluminum.
A growing number of customers across all industry segments are demanding metal based on low CO2 footprints. Together with customers, REAL ALLOY not only explores the suitability and availability of possible raw materials but also discusses the specification of products, their applications, and opportunities for reducing energy and carbon intensity.
Reclaiming aluminum scrap from the various production wastes and post-consumer wastes and returning it as a resource into the value chain is the essence of aluminum recycling and the core of REAL ALLOY’s business model. Recycling is key to the supply of low CO2 metal. For aluminum, typical end-of-life (EOL) scrap types are used beverage cans (UBC), window profiles, aluminum siding, construction waste, shredded automobiles, or market scrap.
REAL ALLOY offers long-standing experience, the required know-how, and state-of-the-art technology for sourcing and processing these scrap types. We are familiar with the main challenges around processing such scrap, for example, due to contamination from other materials or varying alloy compositions in scraps from different uses. Our sampling and testing routines are designed to control the remelting process and the product quality levels closely.
As a recycler of aluminum scrap, our business model revolves around resource efficiency, environmental protection, and energy management. The focus of our operations is reclaiming valuable metal from waste and returning it back into the cycle of valuable products. Careful scrap management and separation, sophisticated blending calculations, advanced production technology, and strict quality control allow us to achieve maximum recoveries of high-quality recycled light metal alloys with the least possible demand on energy and other resources. The environmental impact of our business activities is regularly and comprehensively monitored and documented through internal programs.
There are substantial energy savings associated with our recycling of aluminum scrap and drosses in 2021, where we produced over 566,000 metric tons of aluminum alloys. Compared to the average carbon footprint of primary aluminum used in North America (7.2 kg CO2/kg Al for Scopes 1 and 2, according to the Aluminum Association, The Environmental Footprint of Semi-Fabricated Aluminum Products in North America, Life Cycle Assessment Report 2022), the amount of aluminum recycled by REAL ALLOY in 2021 saved more than 3,842,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions.
Additional energy savings result from the shipment of liquid aluminum; with every kilogram of liquid aluminum delivered, the customer saves approximately 1.19 kWh of energy that would otherwise have to be spent on heating and melting the aluminum (based on 25% thermal efficiency).
In 2021, we delivered more than 75,000 metric tons of aluminum in liquid form, saving our customers more than 89,250 MWh of energy.
The supply of liquid aluminum also promotes resource and energy efficiency. When solid aluminum is melted, about 1% of the metal is usually lost through re-oxidation to aluminum oxide. Our supply of liquid aluminum to our customers reduces not only energy consumption and CO2 emissions but also saves actual material, which would have been lost if our customers had to remelt solid aluminum. In 2021, our customers retained approximately 750 metric tons of aluminum through our liquid deliveries.
Addressing climate change, a major global challenge, is an important issue for REAL ALLOY. We seek to reduce our CO2 emissions and the carbon footprint of our products. Our focus on these issues is consistent with increasing demands from the general public, policymakers, and our customers, for transparency and firm actions to reduce CO2 emissions.
For us at REAL ALLOY, CO2 emissions are generated primarily from our use of natural gas in our furnaces, heating stations, and other similar equipment. Therefore, the reduction of natural gas consumption has the largest impact on our CO2 emissions. Since natural gas usage represents the overwhelming part of our energy cost, reducing our usage is also an important driver for the financial success of our company.
REAL ALLOY personnel, in cooperation with other aluminum and supplier organizations, are investigating the possibility of using hydrogen gas as a carbon-free energy source for melting aluminum. While the adoption of this technology is many years away, the groundwork for a greener future is being laid today.
Compared to our emission levels in 2005, our total emission levels in 2021 were approximately 40% lower. We certainly need to continue our efforts to further improve. In January 2022, we, therefore, set ourselves a mid-term target:
By 2026, REAL ALLOY will improve the energy efficiency and reduce the CO2 intensity of its operations by 12.5%, compared to a 2021 baseline.
In addition, we assess all options for improving the efficiency of our consumption of all relevant energies, i.e., electric power, natural gas, and transportation fuels. This assessment includes all-natural gas furnace and burner operations, electrical drives (especially baghouse fans or compressors), combined heat and power generation (CHP), use of industrial waste heat, sourcing of renewable electricity, optimized transportation routing of vehicles, and optimized just-in-time material flows.
Our greenhouse gas emissions are represented as CO2-equivalent emissions, covering scope 1 (direct emissions from the use of fossil fuels in our own installations and equipment) and scope 2 (emissions from externally sourced electricity), as defined in the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.
Scope 1 covers emissions from the use of natural gas as well as diesel or propane consumption by our forklifts, wheel loaders, and internal mobile equipment. Scope 2 covers purchased electricity. The data are based on information from REAL ALLOY’s accounting systems. The emission factors are taken from the Environmental Protection Agency.
Emissions to air from REAL ALLOY’s operations mainly are:
We treat all furnace sources with dry scrubbers to capture dust, acid gases, chlorine, and dioxin furans. Each of our facilities operates within the requirements of its applicable permits for air emissions.
Our water consumption is characterized by the use of water for sanitary purposes. Only small quantities of water are used for cooling purposes at our production sites. All cooling process water is lost to evaporation.
In addition to emissions to air, REAL ALLOY’s operations may cause noise and odor emissions, especially in plants handling and generating salt slag. REAL ALLOY maintains strict hearing protection requirements for employees and visitors in high-noise environments. We also measure noise sources from our operations and make equipment adjustments or install enclosures or other noise reduction techniques to minimize noise levels at the fence line of our operations.
In 2021, we did not experience any significant spills of oil, diesel, or other water-endangering liquids into sewage systems or water bodies. REAL ALLOY did experience some minor spills that were detected quickly and contained via immediate action.
REAL ALLOY’s North American business model centers on recovering value from aluminum scrap that would otherwise go to waste. Recycling these materials is fundamental to our sustainability proposition.
The vast majority of REAL ALLOY’s input material is scrap:
In 2021, we treated approximately 750,000 metric tons of scrap and drosses and 314,000 metric tons of material in our milling processes.
Roughly 61% of the waste generated in REAL ALLOY’s operations consists of salt slag from our rotary furnaces. In 2021, we generated a total of approximately 240,000 tons of salt slag. The slag consists of salt (a mixture of NaCl and KCl), aluminum oxide, and small amounts of other metal oxides and metal compounds. We recycle our salt slag when economically and logistically feasible, with the remaining material going to the landfill.
Another waste type we manage is filter dust. Filter dust is generated by our filter systems, which control and reduce the emissions from our operations to legally permissible levels according to our permits. The majority of the filter dust is landfilled.
Below are specific air emissions, water consumption, and waste data for our Coldwater, MI, facilities, provided in connection with our ASI certification process.
All our drosses are recycled internally, either at the site where they are generated or at another REAL ALLOY site.
All REAL ALLOY sites in North America have a long-standing industrial history, located in areas that have been used for industrial purposes for many decades. Their operating permits are based on national and local laws and regulations. This legal framework was designed and issued, taking account of all possible environmental impacts, including the impact on biodiversity from emissions to air, water, and waste.
None of our operations involve new land use. With most of our operations sourcing scrap from local or regional sources, the introduction or spreading of alien species represents a minimal risk. Overall, our impact on biodiversity is defined and minimized by our operation within the given permits and regulatory framework.
REAL ALLOY’s employees are spread across sixteen production sites and the headquarters in North America, yet they are all united by the REAL ALLOY mission: to responsibly capture the inherent economic value of aluminum recycling solutions. We share a passion for excellence and are committed to integrity and accountability. At each site, our teams foster an environment of trust and empowerment, where good ideas are encouraged and setbacks are viewed as learning opportunities. Always tuned in to the bigger picture, we are motivated by a strong sense of responsibility towards our colleagues, customers, suppliers, other business partners, and our communities.
Our values define what we stand for. In addition, our policies provide a framework and direction and set clear expectations on an ethical and responsible approach to business not only for all our managers and employees but also for our suppliers. They describe how we operate and what we expect from ourselves. Among these REAL ALLOY policies are:
Respect for human rights, including women’s rights and labor rights, are the foundations of our corporate culture.
We have a clear commitment to legal compliance and strictly oppose any form of discrimination and harassment, child labor or forced labor, or any other unethical behavior. All our plants are located in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. All of these countries maintain the highest human rights standards in their legal frameworks and are signatories to the relevant human rights-related declarations of the United Nations. Society and the general public also show strong engagement in all human rights-related matters and questions. Within that framework and based on our own Code of Conduct, compliance with human rights is a must-have for our organization. We also expect our business partners and our suppliers to fully observe human rights.
We conducted a structured human rights compliance self-assessment using the United Nations Global Compact Self-Assessment Tool. We have no indication of material or even systematic non-compliance with our Code of Conduct and human rights in general.
Our processes and management decisions take environmental requirements and standards into consideration, as well as stakeholder concerns and the demands of the market. REAL ALLOY pursues an open information policy and works closely with the relevant government agencies and associations. We are similarly committed to maintaining a dialogue with the public, our suppliers, customers, and other contractual partners. In new projects as well as in ongoing operations, we continuously assess our impact on the surrounding communities. We do so to offer transparency and insights into the activities of our various sites and related environmental considerations. This transparency is a prerequisite for sustaining an asset of immense value for REAL ALLOY: the support and trust of the communities we operate and live in.
Grievance or complaint mechanisms are important to better understand the impact of REAL ALLOY’s operations in its surrounding communities. Grievances may be of any kind, including social and environmental issues. We strive for easy addressability – to solve issues before they become bigger problems. Annual meetings with local stakeholders, such as neighbors, local politicians, citizen associations, and the media, should safeguard a continuous exchange of information in both directions.
Our more than 1,000 employees in North America are the key to our success. They – on behalf of REAL ALLOY – deliver on our responsibilities to our stakeholders. We understand that their knowledge and capabilities are a prerequisite for being successful, both for them as individuals as well as for REAL ALLOY as a company.
Training and qualification are therefore integral parts of our daily business. Health and safety, environmental protection, and responsible use of energy and resources are regular training topics, just like good operating practices for all our production equipment. This is part of our efforts to provide a good and safe working environment. It also supports our attractiveness as an employer and helps retain talented people in a highly competitive labor market.
We fill our job vacancies exclusively according to ability, potential, and performance. We do not tolerate discriminatory behavior either when we hire new employees or in our daily interactions with each other. We aim to develop the full potential of our employees, regardless of external circumstances. To do so, we want to identify and remove barriers in our thinking and in our processes. We are convinced that a diversified workforce and an open and appreciative company culture are important success factors in a globalized world.
Our goal is to continually increase the share of female representation at all levels of the organization. We support the career development of women at all levels. In 2021, the proportion of women in leadership roles was 22%.
Cultures: Cultural diversity is a part of everyday working life at REAL ALLOY. Awareness of different value systems and their influence on our daily behavior helps to meet the challenges of mixed teams.
We encourage learning across all generations. We promote knowledge transfer and a change of perspective between experienced and less experienced employees. Demographic analysis helps us to understand the challenges we may be facing in the future and plan activities to prevent any workforce shortage.
We are committed to communicating openly with our employees and their representatives and pursuing a constructive dialogue. Our goal is to inform them early on about important issues. As a result, we are positioned to successfully face challenges and changes in society, the economy, and politics in order to remain competitive and sustainable in the future.
Appreciation of our employees is an important element of our company culture and enables us to ensure our long-term and sustainable business success. For this reason, it is important to recognize our people’s performance through appropriate remuneration in line with the market. The compensation systems for our employees are based on legal requirements, market data, and existing collective agreements. Overtime is paid out according to local legal requirements. REAL ALLOY has implemented various incentive programs to help align performance to business strategy. We strive to maintain equal pay for equal work, with no discrimination due to gender, race, or other protected status.
Our policies and procedures clearly state the recognition of the principle of freedom of association and the right to join employee organizations.
There is no employment of workers under the age of 18 years. The hiring of minors (under 18 years) is not allowed in any position.
REAL ALLOY neither engages in nor supports the use of forced labor. We do not engage in or support human trafficking either directly or through employment or recruitment agencies. Practices such as withholding personal property, passports, wages, training certificates, work permits, or any other document for inappropriate reasons are not acceptable. We do not tolerate slavery and forced or compulsory labor and human trafficking, as referenced in our Supplier Sustainability Policy.
REAL ALLOY’s management and employees place the utmost importance on the protection of health and safety. REAL ALLOY deploys a management system that is founded on the ISO 45001 framework.
The system includes a set of standards and elements that establish clear expectations for health and safety processes and activities and supports a continuous improvement approach through various monitoring and accountability activities.
We incorporate occupational health and safety considerations into all our operational activities and decisions. “Zero injuries” is our ultimate goal and the driver of our ongoing efforts to improve our health and safety performance, which have so far resulted in injury rates that are lower than the secondary aluminum industry’s average. Beyond the immediate efforts regarding safety in the workplace, we also promote safe practices and behaviors outside of work and offer programs for preventative health care and well-being.
2019: IIR – 2.24, DAWR – 1.07
2020: IIR – 1.38, DAWR – 0.92
2021: IIR – 2.48, DAWR – 1.38
The year 2021 was filled with various headwinds and safety performances that did not meet our expectations at several locations. In addition to site-specific plans and actions, the Company continues to advance its efforts on the full engagement of our employees through team-based safety projects and identifying the conditions, behaviors, and systems improvements that reduce risk. Health and safety training and meetings are held on a regular basis to ensure policies and procedures are clearly understood and to ensure an open dialogue exists between employees. Hazard recognition and control is a common theme within the safety meetings with a particular focus on near-miss event identification, discussion, and then actions to prevent the same or similar events from happening again.
2019: IIR – 2.24, DAWR – 1.07
2020: IIR – 1.38, DAWR – 0.92
2021: IIR – 2.48, DAWR – 1.38