Novelis is building a $2.5 billion aluminum recycling and rolling plant with a focus on advanced sustainability and circular manufacturing.
The plant is being constructed in Bay Minette, Alabama, and will have an initial capacity of 600,000 metric tons of aluminum products per year. Novelis says more than half the facility will be dedicated to meet growing demand for aluminum beverage can sheet in North America to supply sustainable packaging; the rest of the facility will be geared toward vastly increasing the company’s recycling capabilities.
The facility will also meet significant sustainability standards, according to Novelis, including a goal of being net carbon neutral for Scope 1 and 2 emissions. It will also be mostly powered by renewable energy, use recycled water, and be a zero-waste facility.
Novelis says the plant will be the first fully integrated aluminum mill built in the United States in 40 years. The recycling center will increase the company’s overall recycling capabilities to 90 billion cans from a current capacity of 74 billion cans.
In addition to aluminum can sheet, the facility will manufacture materials for the automotive industry. The plant is expected to be completed by 2025.
Aluminum is an easily recycled material, making cans, bottles and cups a significant piece of circular packaging efforts. Novelis says aluminum cans, for example, can be recycled and be back in retail stores in as few as 60 days.
According to the Aluminum Association, the material’s easy recyclability encourages such a circular economy. The organization says 75% of all aluminum produced is still in use today, recycled aluminum makes up 80% of aluminum production in the US, and aluminum cans on average contain 73% recycled materials.
Novelis has been working to support further sustainability through aluminum by working to develop policies with federal and state governments as well as developing new approaches to encourage and incentivize US customers to recycle more.
The company produces aluminum for many top can, automotive, aerospace and electronics companies. Among those are Coca-Cola, Ball, Ford, General Motors, Volvo and Samsung. One of Novelis’ sustainability efforts includes helping Atlanta’s State Farm Arena with its zero-waste campaign
In addition to the sustainable aspects of the new facility, Novelis also plans to use advanced automation and digital technologies, including artificial intelligence, augmented reality and robotics at the plant. Novelis says it will rely on railroad transportation at the location, which could reduce logistics carbon emissions by up to 70% compared with road transport.
Novelis has recycling operations at 15 of its plants, including seven in the US. The company broke ground earlier this month on a $365 million aluminum recycling plant in Kentucky, which is expected to be open in 2024.
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