Rio Tinto is set to supply Nespresso with sustainable aluminum for their coffee pods. Although both sides of this deal have been under fire this year for not looking like they are doing enough to help reduce the impact on climate change, this could be set to change.
Angle-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto has found itself under increased scrutiny at times as people wonder just how good the mining industry is for the planet, but it has already sold all its coal power plants as it tries to take a step away from any controversy.
Nestle, which owns Nespresso, has faced accusations on a similar front, and with single-use items being one of the hot topics of the tail end of 2018, the amount of waste that the company’s products generate for consumers has also come into the line of fire.
Part of the intent of this partnership is to certify the source of the metal as responsible so that both companies can show that they are making changes and have their product verified by an independent source. The Aluminum Stewardship Initiative (ASI) will vet their supply chain.
The ASI formed to try and manage the sources of aluminum and make the supply chain more transparent. Rio Tinto was quick to sign up to the scheme and hopes that it will allow the company to develop some sustainable credentials while moving away from mining potentially dirtier commodities such as coal.
Jean-Sebastien Jacques, CEO of Rio Tinto, said that his company needs to be able to shake off the idea that the mining industry is one of the worst contributors to climate change and show that it can compete responsibly.
The CEO of its aluminum arm, Alf Barrios, said that the partnership announcement heralded “an important step towards the use of responsibly sourced aluminum across manufacturing industries.”
Rio Tinto has been busy this year finding new ways to reduce its carbon output. It ushered in a new technology with Alcoa back in May to smelt aluminum without creating any greenhouse gasses.
Elysis, their joint venture, quickly attracted interest from a variety of sources, including electronics giant Apple and the Canadian government.
The process of converting mined aluminum ore into a useable commodity is very energy-intensive and can take around 15MWh just to create one tonne of the metal. However, as hydroelectricity mostly powers Rio Tinto, its carbon footprint is much lower than that of its rivals. While every tonne of metal produced makes four tonnes of carbon at Rio, its rivals’ average figure is about 11.5 tonnes.
Barrios said that this new work with the ASI means that Rio Tinto could place a premium on its product as consumers begin to demand a higher ethical stance from suppliers on what goes into the items that they end up buying. The ASI also covers various social aspects and ensures that mining does not affects the rights and lives of indigenous people.
Nespresso previously said that it wants to be using 100% sustainable aluminum in its coffee pods by the start of the next decade. Its CEO, Jean-Marc Duvoisin, said the company now has a sustainable metal source to go to with its responsibly sourced coffee product.