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& S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y

APL & Sustainability

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Contents

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Overview and Current Initiative

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Aluminium & Sustainability

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The APL Supply Chain

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Key Facts

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Rio Tinto

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New Zealand Aluminium Smelters Limited

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INEX Ltd

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Colour Works

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Finex (Anodising Process)

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APL (Architectural Profiles Ltd)

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APL DIRECT

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Energy Efficiency And Product Development

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Sustainability Initiative: Revegetation Project

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APL & Sustainability


A P L & S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y

APL & Sustainability Overview and Current Initiative

Introduction APL is the biggest aluminium window systems supply company in New Zealand. Its brands of exterior joinery (including Altherm, First, and Vantage) are prominent in the New Zealand construction industry and are manufactured throughout the country by a network of independent manufacturers. As a market leader, APL recognises the importance of seeking to achieve best practice status on a range of environmental management issues. The quest for excellence in practices that affect economic and environmental sustainability is a journey rather than a destination and the company recognises that green initiatives will be part of its strategy over the long term.

About this report This overview paper is intended as an initial description of the environmental context in which APL operates – including reference to early stages of the product life cycle – as well as a description of current initiatives underway at APL and within its raw material suppliers and contractors.

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Aluminium & Sustainability Aluminium is the most abundant metal in the earth’s crust. It is derived commercially from bauxite, a naturally occurring mineral which is estimated to have mineable global reserves measured in the hundreds of years. The smelting of aluminium and the extruding of aluminium profiles require large amounts of electricity for electrolytic and heating purposes. This requirement gives aluminium windows a high embodied energy. Offset against this is the favourable comparison between aluminium and alternative window materials for both recyclability and durability. Studies have indicated that aluminium windows typically last over 40 years, which is in excess of many alternative systems. Aluminium is notable for its ability to be recycled indefinitely owing to its high intrinsic value and the widespread industrial infrastructure devoted to remelt and repurification of the metal. Recycled aluminium accounts for one third of global consumption worldwide, but there is considerable scope for the recycle content of global production to be increased .

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Aluminium alloys have unique properties of strength, light weight, ductility and corrosion-resistance

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Because of the balance that needs to be achieved between energy conservation and the ideal allocation of energy-rich materials to appropriate end uses aluminium is best used in applications where its unique properties are indispensable

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The aluminium window and door industry maintains that its use in this sector is important and well justified. Aluminium windows have attributes of span, scale, strength, functionality and aesthetic capability that alternative materials have difficulty matching

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Modern architectural trends and practices would be significantly impacted if exterior aluminium joinery was unavailable

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Provided that maximum levels of recycle of scrap or demolition aluminium are achieved and other measures of environmental mitigation are implemented at all points in the production process, APL believes that aluminium windows and doors offer an acceptable solution from the viewpoint of sustainability.

APL & Sustainability

The APL Supply Chain All the aluminium billet used by APL extrusion company, INEX, is sourced from New Zealand Aluminium Smelters Limited (NZAS), at Tiwai Point, near Bluff. NZAS is a joint venture operation owned by Rio Tinto Alcan (New Zealand) (79.36%) and Sumitomo Chemical Company (Japan) (20.64%). Rio Tinto Alcan (New Zealand) is the managing partner at NZAS and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Rio Tinto.


A P L & S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y

KEY FACTS

640 1

full time employees in APL Group Operations

46,000

tonnes of aluminium profiles sold in 2011-2018 period

and only extruder of aluminium in Australasia that recycles its scrap directly with a smelter reforestation plants planted in a South Waikato ‘carbon offset’ initiative

100%

2,000 people in APL’s window and door manufacturer network

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major environment focused sponsorships NZ Green Building Council and Sustainable Coastlines

90%

APL aluminium billet obtained from a smelter using a renewable resource hydro power

of APL distribution fleet trucks are Euro 5 compliant and better for exhaust emissions.

99.9%

of aluminium scrap in APL’s window and door network is recycled

of packing case bases sent to the manufacturer network are recycled back through APL

100%

of APL powdercoating lines use non-hazardous, chromate free pre-treatment

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Rio Tinto Rio Tinto is a leading international mining group with its headquarters in London, and operates in over 50 countries. In addition to managing the smelter at Tiwai Point, Rio Tinto owns the Weipa bauxite mine, in Queensland, that supplies the bauxite feedstock for the smelter. The Weipa bauxite is refined into alumina in Gladstone, at the Queensland Alumina refinery (80% Rio Tinto Alcan) and is then shipped to NZAS for smelting, the third step of the aluminium production process. Rio Tinto operations are inherently energy intensive and emissive, releasing gases and particulate into the atmosphere. The company has committed to driving continuous improvement in regards to greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions and improved energy efficiency across all its sites, including its Australasian assets. Climate risks and opportunities have formed part of Rio Tinto’s strategic thinking for many years and helped shaped its environmental strategy, which includes: ■■

Reducing emissions from its own footprint

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Supplying essential metals and minerals for the transition to a low-carbon economy

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Partnering to advance climate goals

Rio Tinto is on track to reduce GHG emissions by at least 24% by 2020 against a 2008 baseline. Overall emissions are expected to be down by 43%. Some of this reduction has resulted from the sale or closure of company assets. Targets for the post-2020 timeframe are reportedly under preparation. In 2018, Rio Tinto took two significant steps - completing its strategic exit from coal assets – selling its last coal mine to concentrate on iron ore, aluminium, copper and bauxite – and announcing a new technology initiative with a number of partners to develop an identified carbonfree aluminium smelting technology. It is planned that the technology will be able to be retrofitted to existing smelters. It should also be noted that the major part of the electricity used by Rio Tinto’s aluminium production (80%) comes from hydro or low carbon sources, with 55% generated by the group’s own hydro power assets. 6

APL & Sustainability

-24% Overall reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions between 2008 and 2020 is expected to exceed 24%


A P L & S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y

New Zealand Aluminium Smelters Limited (NZAS) The NZAS smelter at Tiwai Point is one of the world’s largest, and has 672 smelting or reduction cells or pots. NZAS has around 670 full-time equivalent employees and 130 contractors. The smelter contributes $525 million to Southland’s GDP, which equates to 10.5%. Most of the aluminium produced at the smelter is exported to Japan, Europe, other Asian countries and North America. Only 8% is sold locally in New Zealand. Key facts relating to environmental performance and initiatives at NZAS include the following:

3,300+ tonnes of extrusion scrap reprocessed each year

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Almost all the electricity NZAS smelter uses is obtained from a renewable resource – hydro electricity

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NZAS has one of the lightest carbon footprints per tonne of aluminium of a smelter anywhere in the world. Its metal is marketed under the new Rio Tinto ‘RenewAl’ brand, externally certified to have smelting emissions at Tiwai Point of less than two tonnes of CO2 per tonne of aluminium (scope 1 & 2 emissions). This branding signifies that the aluminium is made from traceable raw materials and is produced with electricity from low carbon sources, using world class smelting processes

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Aluminium produced at Tiwai Point is not only made from alumina but also includes some recycled content, with more than 3,300 tonnes of extrusion scrap per annum submitted by external customers included in the plant’s metal output

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In 2016, NZAS addressed its non-smelting ‘works load’ of almost 20MW of electricity use. A project team managed to save the equivalent of the power consumption of over 1,000 residential homes. Due to the nature of the company’s power contract, the electricity saved was then able to be used in the smelting reduction cells to convert alumina to aluminium, a gain in both energy efficiency and productivity

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NZAS efficiency projects focus on a number of areas, including reduction cell processing efficiencies contributing to voltage savings, anodic efficiency enhancement, switching off idle equipment, dry scrubber fan improvements, lighting improvements, progressive replacement of LEDs and clear roofing in some areas.

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INEX INEX purchases its aluminium from NZAS for all its extrusions. It is the exclusive supplier to APL for the profiles that are used to make windows and doors for the Altherm, First and Vantage brands. INEX has a capacity of 35,000 extrusion tonnes and is the second biggest extruder in the Southern Hemisphere.

Key facts relating to environmental performance and initiatives at INEX include the following:

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INEX is the only extrusion plant in Australasia to recycle its scrap directly with an aluminium smelter, in this case NZAS. The net effect of recycling in this manner through billet preparation furnaces rather than through a ‘remelt’ plant is that there is a dramatic reduction in the energy input for the recycled content (as it acts as an efficient coolant in the hot metal that is cooled before casting)

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Because INEX recycles its scrap through its billet supplier it is, in effect, using virgin billet that may have a significant INEX recycled metal content

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In the 5 year period to 2019 total investment of approximately $10m was made to increase efficiencies and reduce energy consumption (and emissions) across a range of new technologies – extrusion press enhancements, an extrusion cooling chamber, metal aging innovations, soft-start electric motors, an aluminium baler/recycler, an extruder quench hood and automation of a packaging line. The latest investment was a new aging oven to improve energy efficiency and capacity

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Continued annual investment in new technology and efficiency improvements of more than half a million dollars

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INEX conducts regular energy audits to ensure full utilisation of power and gas. Having induction billet heating on all presses, as opposed to gas heating, eliminates carbon dioxide emissions.

APL & Sustainability


A P L & S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y

Colour Works Colour Works is an associated company of APL that powdercoats aluminium extrusions for supply to the APL manufacturer network in New Zealand and the Pacific. Powdercoating is a method of coating products with a powdered resin which is applied to the aluminium profile. Electrically charged powder is sprayed on to extrusions which then pass into an oven to gel the powder and cure it. The result is a uniform, high quality durable finish. Prior to this process the aluminium profiles go through a preparation phase comprising the following: immersion in a pre-cleaning tank containing detergent, rinsing, immersion in acid etch solution (a dilute mixture of sulphuric acid and hydrofluoric acid), rinsing and drying. In April 2016 Colour Works achieved a major reduction in environmental footprint by installing a vertical powdercoating plant, using a chromium-free pre-treatment process. This more benign process greatly simplifies on-site effluent treatment and disposal. The throughput for the vertical powder coater accounts for approximately 70% of our powder coating. The installation of this new technology is believed to be a first for the New Zealand window industry. Since then the two other APL powdercoating lines have also gone chromium free.

Key facts relating to environmental performance and initiatives at Colour Works include: ■■

Colour Works’ main powdercoating line, the new vertical powdercoater, and other company lines have a chromium-free pre-treatment regime for a more benign environmental impact

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The pre-cleaning tank is emptied for maintenance purposes once a year and the contents are neutralised prior to discharge to trade waste

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Acid etch tank discharge and acidic rinse water are neutralised with a caustic solution to meet trade waste requirements

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Rinse tank flows are counter-cycled to reuse clean water and reduce water consumption

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A significant proportion of the waste powder in the spray booths is sucked back into a collection system and recycled through the application process. Waste powder that cannot be recycled is returned to Colour Works supplier, Dulux Powder & Industrial Coatings who export it overseas recyclers when this outlet is available

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Dulux has obtained Enviro-Mark Gold certification, an internationally recognised environmental management system. Its powders are manufactured free of volatile organic compounds (VOC), triglycidyl isocyanurate (TGIC), PVC or PVC derivatives, formaldehyde, lead and cadmium.

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Finex Finex is APL’s on-site anodising plant, which was built in 2004. It is New Zealand’s most modern anodiser and, as such, was designed with the latest effluent treatment technology. An extensive underground storage and treatment system was included in the plant’s construction and is unique in New Zealand for the comprehensive and integrated design approach that was taken. In addition, failsafe bunding was incorporated to ensure the containment of any accidental chemical spills. The anodising process itself is a complex, multistage operation that typically involves an aluminium extrusion in 15 separate tank immersions in order to achieve the lustrous anodised surface finish that is so popular in the building industry. The process requires the aluminium to be cleaned and etched before being subject to electrolysis to create an enhanced protective oxide coating. Colouring may then be carried out (except for a natural anodised finish), and then sealing takes place. The contents of the 17 process tanks include a detergent, rinse water, demineralised rinse water, a caustic solution, and other dilute solutions including nitric acid and ferrous sulphates, sulphuric acid, a sulphuric acid and stannous sulphate mix, as well as nickel acetate. Some tanks are heated.

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APL & Sustainability

Key facts relating to environmental performance and initiatives at Finex include the following: ■■

Natural heat generated by the caustic tank is transferred to assist heating of other process tanks. All other heating is by a natural gas burner which heats closed-circuit oil lines

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Rinse tank flows are counter-cycled to reuse clean water and reduce water consumption

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Waste rinse water, waste acid and caustic solutions have metals and solids removed by flocculation

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This precipitate is gathered as a sediment and is then compacted through a filter press before being disposed at a landfill as a dry cake

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Waste water streams are neutralised before discharge to the trade waste system

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Effluent discharges are to standards applied by the local authority and are sampled and monitored on a regular basis.


A P L & S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y

APL Within our Hamilton business operation a number of environmental initiatives are in place or planning: ■■

Packing case wooden bases for aluminium extrusions delivered to the APL network of manufacturers nationwide by APL distribution trucks (APL Direct) are currently recycled back from the manufacturer to APL for re-use

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Packing case outers, which are made from cardboard, were changed to cardboard made from recycled paper in 2006. Most APL manufacturers recycle these outers to recycle bins on their premises

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Other packing case components, polystyrene packers and shrink wrapping, are currently single-use but APL has now swapped interleaving plastic to recyclable paper

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All waste cardboard cartons and packaging are sent to a recycler

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Our Christchurch warehouse recycle or reuse all packaging materials – polystyrene packers, wooden cleats, cardboard and steel strapping

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APL’s 5,000 square metre Centre of Innovation, completed in 2015, features a sophisticated, energy efficient, double-skin façade with ventilation conditioned naturally by underground earth tubes

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APL has embarked on a long-term process of relocating its operations to Hautapu, south of Hamilton, to a 50ha site that will bring together its operations currently spread over four sites at Te Rapa. The campus-style, APL industrial subdivision will be greener and more efficient across a whole range of sustainability metrics, led by a major investment in solar energy supply to site operations. New buildings will be built to a high Green Star rating. Included in the master plan are major plantings, a gymnasium, lap pool, half basketball court, and childcare and health support facilities.

APL’s relocation plans involve a major investment in solar energy.

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APL DIRECT APL Direct is APL’s distribution subsidiary. It has 18 delivery trucks, 16 of which have Euro 5-compliant engines conforming to strict standards applicable in the European Union in regard to diesel emissions of nitrogen oxides and soot. A Euro-6 truck is on order signalling the start of a Euro-6 replacement programme. APL Direct operates from a new logistics centre to service its nationwide customer base. The new logistics arrangement includes several ‘green’ initiatives, as outlined below.

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APL Direct are believed to have achieved one of the highest fleet proportions in New Zealand of Euro 5 trucks at an early stage after the emission standard came into force in late 2009. Of the 18 trucks currently in the fleet, 16 have Euro 5 engines and two have Euro 3 engines. Euro 5 trucks are also more fuel efficient

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The APL Direct service plan has cut past servicing requirements by half through the use of fully synthetic engine oil. The reduction in oil changes has resulted in a halving of oil disposal and recycling requirements

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The APL Direct logistics centre includes a rainwater collection system from the roof which supplies the truck wash station and toilets

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The centre has a repair and recycling unit to ensure that empty freight bases returned from manufacturers are made ready for reuse

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APL direct has teamed up with KARKT to recycle used truck curtains into designer bags

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The APL Direct tyre plan utilises virgin case tyres which can be recapped and placed on tag axles of the truck fleet, thus doubling the life of company tyre cases.

APL & Sustainability

APL Direct has one of highest fleet proportions in New Zealand of Euro 5 trucks.


A P L & S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y

Energy Efficiency & Product Development To cater for the greater emphasis on energy efficiency in homes, APL has launched three ranges of thermally efficient windows and doors.

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The Klima Series of windows & doors is a uPVC window system rated to the maximum 6 energy stars under WEERS (Window Energy Efficiency Rating System) when used with Low-E double glazing. It is based on the Kommerling 76mm Series, a European market leader, but designed for New Zealand conditions and building practices. Klima products are made from a highly durable ‘hot country’ uPVC, an environmentally-friendly lead-free formulation

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Two ranges of thermally broken aluminium windows and doors are available, as well as a thermally broken roof window in both opening and fixed format. The Metro ThermalHEART and Residential ThermalHEART ranges are offered through Altherm, First and Vantage window manufacturers nationwide

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All ThermalHEART products have a nylon insulator incorporated in every aluminium profile which provides a highly effective barrier for minimising the transmission of cold and the development of condensation. ThermalHEART ranges offer up to 35% more thermal efficiency than standard double glazed windows and doors

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Some commercial window systems offered by APL e.g. Structural Glaze systems are available in thermally shielded and thermally broken profiles.

Klima products are made from a highly durable ‘hot country’ uPVC, an environmentallyfriendly lead-free formulation

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Sustainability Initiative: Revegetation Project With environmental sustainability at the forefront of APL’s values and a desire to balance out our own industrial activities, a major revegetation project was commenced in 2011. The project was undertaken on a rural property south of Cambridge now known as Takapoto. This environmentally focused project was and continues to be a successful and rewarding carbon offset initiative. This is how the project has unfolded to date: More than 500,000 tussocks, native and non-native reforestation plants have been planted in permanent parkland. The extensive list comprises over 40 different species. Amongst that list are commonly known species like the Kauri, Titoki, Black Mamaku fern, Silver fern, Cabbage tree, Nikau, Kowhai, Rimu, Puka, Puriri, Manuka, Pohutukawa, Totara, Kanuka, Pigeon-wood and Kawakawa. The project is recognised as one of the largest native forest planting initiatives in the country. With native species comes an abundance of bird life, and as a result the project has been aligned with nearby Maungatautari and the Maungatautari Sanctuary Project (MSP). MSP is an ambitious, educational and environmentally focused initiative run by a local trust to protect the birds of Maungatautari Mountain. Maungatautari has since seen the construction of a 47km anti-predator fence. For Maungatautari birds the Takapoto property is a wonderful touch down point, sitting perfectly on their migration flight path. Conservationists highly regard the APL revegetation programme as an additional, highly beneficial food source for Maungatautari birds whose temperate rain forest is not as prolific as a food source because of its maturity. Takapoto however has a vast pantry that is either in flower or berry, providing food and shelter for the birds all year round. In conjunction with the planting programme, a significant area of land has been retired from farming in order to remove stock from lower lying paddocks to protect the waterways from stock effluent. The next transition was to bees. The Takapoto bees, although mostly dormant during winter, are comfortably sustained all year round. The honey they produce is reflective of their succulent food source. Those who live on the property explain with a smile that in a few short years they are awoken to a dawn chorus of Tui from what used to be gentle, distant bird-song. Water ways and ponds are teeming with frogs and insects, where there used to be none and the hum of bees during the summer months is welcomed with open arms. An exceptional piece of land on which to have made our mark. 14

APL & Sustainability


A P L & S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y

APL, 19 Northpark Dr, Hamilton 3200

P 07 849 2113

W aplnz.co.nz

facebook.com/APLNZ

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