Audi, long-time proponent of the use of aluminum in the manufacture of vehicles, is joining the Aluminum Stewardship Initiative to help develop a global standard for sustainable aluminum.

The German company said it is taking the opportunity to influence the entire value chain of one of its most important materials – one of the objectives of Audi’s corporate-responsibility strategy.

“As a pioneer for lightweight construction, we are very interested in establishing a global standard for sustainable aluminum. This will allow us to further improve the environmental impact of our cars by using certified aluminum in the future,” explained Dr. Bernd Martens, Audi’s Board of Management Member for Procurement, with regard to joining the Aluminum Stewardship Initiative.

The Aluminum Stewardship Initiative was founded in the autumn of 2012 and aims to develop a sustainability standard for aluminum by the end of 2014, with the support of the environmental organization IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). It sets environmental and social criteria that apply to all stages of extracting the raw material as well as producing and processing aluminum.

“Active responsibility is firmly anchored throughout our company. Also in our supply chains, we place priority on the integration of environmental protection and social responsibility,” emphasized Dr. Martens.

The Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) is a unique aluminium value chain program that will define and deliver the first global standard for aluminum sustainability. Under the coordination of the IUCN, it was initiated by leading players on their respective markets: AMAG/Constancia Flexibles, Amcor Flexibles, Constellium, Nespresso, Rio Tinto Alcan and Tetra Pak.

IUCN said the ASI Standard will define environmental, social and governance criteria that can be applied to all stages of aluminum production and transformation. It will also consider how recycling and material recovery from products that contain aluminum can contribute to improving the metal’s efficiency and minimizing its environmental and social footprint. The ASI Standard will be supported by a Chain of Custody system, which will aim to assure the provenance of aluminum.

The new standard fits with Audi’s holistic approach to product responsibility: The premium manufacturer said it not only ensures that its automobiles are highly fuel efficient, but also analyzes the environmental impact of its products over their entire life cycles – from the extraction of raw materials to production to operation to recycling.

For each new model series, Audi has a certified environmental analysis prepared in order to assess the impact on the environment; the objective is to reduce it compared with each model’s predecessor.

For example, the company said it has been able to demonstrate that both the current Audi A6 and Audi A3 have improved in all relevant environmental categories. The new Audi A3 has a better environmental footprint than its predecessor right from the first kilometer. In addition to sustainable materials and manufacturing processes, ultra-lightweight construction plays an important role.

Audi dais it has positioned itself as a pioneer for lightweight construction. At the Frankfurt Motor Show 20 years ago, the brand presented the Audi Space Frame, a shimmering silver show car with an unpainted body made of polished aluminum. In 1994, the first Audi A8 went into series production. The car was based on a unitary aluminum body with a weight of just 249 kilograms (540 pounds).

With its ultra-lightweight construction today, Audi said it applies an intelligent material mix – according to the motto of “the right material in the right place in the minimum required quantity.”

Lower weight enhances driving pleasure, improves safety, and has less impact on the environment.

Every kilogram saved means less fuel is consumed and less CO2 is emitted.