“Norðurál is a solid and dependable company. We produce aluminum responsibly, safely, and profitably in harmony with the environment and society.”
Community, Environment and Staff
Norðurál CSR Report 2021
We have wide-ranging responsibilities
Norðurál is one of Iceland’s largest industrial companies, one of the largest workplaces in the country, and one of the largest buyers of Icelandic electricity. We therefore have a lot of responsibility, which we take seriously. Creating long-term economic value in a sustainable and responsible manner, and operating in a way that has maximum positive impact on society is at the heart of our corporate social responsibility. This is reflected in our statement on social responsibility:
Norðurál is a solid and dependable company. We produce aluminum responsibly, safely, and profitably in harmony with the environment and society.
The world has undergone enormous changes in recent years. People and companies care about climate issues. There is public demand for companies and institutions to take action to reduce their carbon footprint. This new reality entails challenges but also enormous opportunities for Norðurál.
The largest single factor in the carbon footprint of global aluminum production is electric power. In Iceland, energy is renewable and this, along with stable operations and safe equipment, allows us to produce the greenest aluminum in the world.
In our operations, we have been successful in limiting greenhouse gas emissions, reducing waste, and improving the use of raw materials. We would not have been able to achieve this without our excellent staff and stable operations. Clear environmental awareness and responsibility play a key role at every stage of production, from resource acquisition in remote corners of the world to maximum utilization and recycling of all raw materials.
But our work is nowhere near done. We aim for carbon neutrality in our business and are actively involved in development and innovation projects that seek methods of capturing and sequestering or harnessing the CO₂ emitted in the course of Norðurál’s aluminum production.
Emissions other than those from production will be reduced by at least 40% by 2030, compared to 2015. At the same time, we intend to reduce mixed waste buried in landfills by at least 40%. Good results have already been achieved. Greenhouse gas emissions within the scope of the Action Plan have decreased by 27%, and the amount of waste by 8%. This achievement inspires Norðurál’s employees to continue their diligent work in reducing the environmental impact of the company’s activities.
We have set ourselves ambitious goals that require constant work, as the mission is never really accomplished. Improvements can always be made, whether in environmental, safety or quality matters. But this work, this need to do better and improv, is also a goal in itself, because those who are not constantly pushing ahead are bound to be left behind.
Norðurál has been successful in limiting greenhouse gas emissions, reducing waste, and improving the use of raw materials. We are constantly reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, increasing recycling, and improving our methods. That is why we can call our aluminum the most environmentally friendly aluminum in the world. Norðurál emphasizes that its operations are conducted in harmony with the environment. We strive to minimize the environmental impact while promoting the responsible use of energy and raw materials. Norðurál promotes increased environmental awareness and staff participation in reforms. Norðurál satisfies the requirements for operating licenses and complies with environmental laws and regulations.
Carbon Neutral by 2040
Norðurál produces aluminum with one of the world’s smallest carbon footprints. Considering the whole process, from the processing of raw materials to the delivery of the finished product, the carbon footprint of Norðurál aluminum only amounts to a quarter of the world average. We aspire to be the first aluminum plant in the world to produce carbon-neutral aluminum.
Climate Action Plan
Norðurál has set ambitious goals when it comes to the aluminum production itself, but we are just as determined to minimize greenhouse gas emission that do not fall under the EU Emissions Trading System. Our climate action plan includes 10 actions that address the biggest emission factors in activities not covered by the EU Emissions Trading System or that are not part of the aluminum production itself.
Norðurál’s immediate environment, Grundartangi and Hvalfjörður, is one of the most studied areas in Iceland. Independent entities monitor approximately 100 factors to ensure that industrial activities at Grundartangi do not have a negative environmental impact. Environmental monitoring is carried out by independent bodies responsible for different monitoring aspects. In 2021, around 813 samples were taken at approximately 143 sampling sites.
Norðurál benefits the community in various ways. The company’s tax footprint in 2021 amounted to ISK 5.9 billion. Norðurál has a great positive impact on the Icelandic economy, thanks to the company’s foreign currency revenues, procurement of Icelandic products and services, payments of taxes and public levies, creation of numerous well-paid jobs, and wide-ranging support of the West Iceland community.
Norðurál’s output in 2021 amounted to 315,182 tons, which is an increase of 2,500 tons compared to the previous year. About 60,000 tons of the company’s output is in the form of value-added product or alloy. With increased efficiency at present, Norðurál has increased its annual output from 270,000 tons of aluminum in 2010 to 315,000 tons in 2021. Profits in 2021 amounted to ISK 10,088 million.
The project allows Norðurál to produce more valuable products in Iceland with less energy consumption and a smaller carbon footprint. Significant energy is saved in the molding process, or approximately 40%. This is an investment project amounting to approx. USD 120 million, or close to ISK 16 billion.
Norðurál is one of Iceland’s largest industrial companies, one of the largest workplaces in the country, and one of the largest buyers of Icelandic electricity. Creating long-term value in a sustainable and responsible manner, for the long term and with a positive impact on society, is at the heart of our corporate social responsibility.
The World's First Long-term Contract for Green Aluminum
Our sales contract with Hammerer Aluminium Industries is not only our first long-term contract for green aluminum, but the first of its kind in the world. Aluminum under the brand name Natur-Al™ has a carbon footprint corresponding to 4 tons of carbon dioxide per ton of aluminum, from the acquisition of bauxite to the processing of aluminum oxide and transportation all the way to the buyer. This means that total emissions of carbon dioxide equivalents in the production of Natur-Al™ are less than a quarter of average emissions in aluminum production. This achievement is based on stable operations and strict environmental standards as well as the use of energy from 100% renewable sources.
New Energy Supply Contract with Landsvirkjun
In July, Landsvirkjun and Norðurál signed a new energy supply contract that involves a three-year extension of the previous contract and support for more varied production and future growth. An agreement for more energy supply supports Norðurál’s plans to invest in a new casthouse for producing value-added special products that will further strengthen the company’s competitiveness.
International ASI Certification
In January 2020, Norðurál became the first aluminum company operating in Iceland to receive the international ASI certification for environmentally friendly and responsible production. The certification confirms that the company’s activities and business practices are socially responsible and outstanding in the area of environmentally friendly production.
We are proud of the economic importance of Norðurál and our part in the utilization of one of Iceland’s most important resources: the clean and environmentally friendly energy harnessed from rivers and geothermal heat. But we are no less aware of the social importance of the company as by far the largest workplace in the region. We want to create a good and safe workplace for all our employees and take an active part in a wide range of socially important projects.
Gender Equality Goals
Gender-equality goals are of prime concern in all recruitment, and efforts are made to hire people of the gender that is underrepresented in the position in question. This means that there are opportunities to recruit more women as production workers, craftspeople, engineers, and technical specialists. Norðurál has received an Equality Scale from the Association of Women Business Leaders in Iceland (FKA) in 2021, has a certified equal pay system in accordance with the equal pay standard ÍST 85:2012 and has also received a Gold Certificate in PWC’s equal pay audit for three years in a row, or since the equal pay audit was first carried out
Family Friendly Workplace
We implemented changes to the shift system in the pot room and casthouse with the previous twelve-hour system to eight-hours. Shorter shifts, longer breaks between shifts, and reduced working hours are part of making the workplace more family-friendly, ensuring a better work–life balance, and making the workplace more attractive for women. At the same time, the working hours of day workers changed, with hours reduced by one and a half per week as of May 1
Norðurál sponsors a number of community projects, with more than ISK 20 million being provided for such projects in 2021. The company is a proud sponsor of the ÍA football club in Akranes and the Valur football club in Reykjavík, with a particular focus on young players.
UN Sustainable Development Goals
Norðurál focuses systematically on four UN Sustainable Development Goals:
Norðurál’s Equal Pay Certification, Human Rights and Equality Policy, Human Rights and Equality Objectives, and Equality Plan support Sustainable Development Goal no 5, i.e. to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
Decent Work and Economic Growth
The Safety and Health Policy, Health and Safety Objectives, the Human Rights and Equality Policy, and the Human Rights and Equality Objectives promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all.
Responsible Consumption and Production
The Quality Policy, Quality Objectives, Environmental Policy, Environmental Objectives, Procurement Policy, Procurement Objectives, Operating License, and Environmental Monitoring have the aim of ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns.
It is necessary to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. The Environmental Policy, Environmental Objectives, Climate Action Plan, Procurement Policy, and Procurement Objectives are Norðurál’s key actions to work towards the 13th Sustainable Development Goal.