Audi successfully achieved the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) Chain of Custody Standard for its rolled material press shop operations at its production facilities in Neckarsulm and Ingolstadt, Germany. The company’s press shops use aluminum sheet material to manufacture automotive body panels for its vehicles. The scrap aluminum from these operations is collected in a separate stream and sent for recycling in a closed-loop system.
“We are responsible for all of the people who are part of our supply chain,” said Dirk Gross-Loheide, board member for Procurement and IT at Audi AG. “To future generations we owe respectful treatment of natural resources. Membership in the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative is of enormous help to us in living up to this responsibility. Resource efficiency is the key to an industry that is fit for the future.”
The Importance of Sustainable Aluminum
Audi has used aluminum as a key material for the bodywork and chassis systems of its vehicles since the 1990s. Over the decades, one of Audi’s great strengths has been lightweight vehicle construction using aluminum, which provides improved fuel economy, lower driving emissions, and improved performance. This has provided the company with a particular expertise in the use of this material in vehicles and components.
As Audi works to achieve sustainability in all stages of its vehicle production process, it has developed a variety of approaches to enable sustainable use of aluminum in all its different facets. “We are convinced that we can bring about change,” said Josef Schön part of Corporate Responsibility at Audi. “And Audi’s use of aluminum is a really good example of how the company wants to play a role in achieving greater sustainability.”
The company’s sustainability work has included the implementation of closed-loop systems, which ensure that the aluminum scrap generated in Audi’s press plants is properly sorted and returned to the suppliers, who are able to use this material to produce new sheet aluminum — thus lowering the usage of energy intensive primary aluminum. The automaker launched its aluminum closed-loop system at its Neckarsulm site in 2017, followed by its Ingolstadt plant in 2020. The company is currently working to set up the closed-loop process at its plant in Győr, Hungary, which is expected to begin operating in 2021. According to Audi, these systems have avoided 150,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2019 alone.
“In this way we protect valuable resources,” explained Alois Winkler, project manager in Procurement Strategy, Audi. “The aluminum closed loop allows us to retain valuable raw material in the loop, with sustainable production guaranteed along the value chain based on the ASI Chain of Custody Standard.”
Audi has been working with the ASI since 2013 and became the world’s first automobile maker to be awarded the ASI Performance Standard in 2018, which certified that the OEM sustainably manufactures and assembles the aluminum components, such as battery housing for the Audi e-tron series. For this purpose, independent inspectors carried out audits at three sites located in Győr, Neckarsulm, and Brussels, Belgium.
The next step was to address Audi’s value chain by certifying the supply of aluminum between the process partners in accordance with ASI’s Chain of Custody Standard. This was a more challenging endeavor, as certification required the consideration of not only the sustainability of Audi’s individual plants, but also considers the compliance at all levels of the supply chain. For example, Audi as a whole is present in more than 100 markets and produces at 13 production locations in ten countries in order to be as close to its customers as possible — making the company’s supply chain highly complex.
Audi was able to address this inherent challenge by maintaining strong partnerships with its suppliers and stakeholders, such as its work with Hydro (which has also obtained the Chain of Custody Standard at its sites). This cooperation enabled the company to achieve Chain of Custody certification for its Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm sites, with more plants to follow in 2021.
“We warmly congratulate Audi on achieving ASI Chain of Custody certification for these two press shop operations and becoming the first OEM to implement chain of custody in their own operations,” said Fiona Solomon, CEO of the ASI. “Over the course of this year, we have noted a growing interest in downstream aluminum users to source responsibly produced aluminum for their products and to be able to demonstrate this to their customers. Paired with the company’s closed-loop scrap recycling system at these facilities, the Chain of Custody certification enables Audi to address consumer expectations and demand for more sustainable products.”