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Let's talk aluminium : Evaluating the aluminium stewardship initiative's effectiveness and applicability as a mechanism in sustainability governance from a multi-stakeholder perspective

Heidingsfelder, Jens LU (2015) In Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science MESM02 20151
LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
Abstract
Mining bauxite and producing aluminium causes severe sustainability challenges. Although the usage
of these non-renewable resource is inherently unsustainable, the global economy fosters an increased
use of supposed “eco-friendly” aluminium. German industry is an important user of aluminium and a
key player in the aluminium industry. The production of aluminium causes many sustainability
challenges, including biodiversity loss and land use change. The Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI)
is a voluntary alliance of companies and NGOs; its aim is to establish a certification to decrease the
sustainability impacts of aluminium. Despite high expectations, little is known about the motivation
for the ASI, its strengths and weaknesses... (More)
Mining bauxite and producing aluminium causes severe sustainability challenges. Although the usage
of these non-renewable resource is inherently unsustainable, the global economy fosters an increased
use of supposed “eco-friendly” aluminium. German industry is an important user of aluminium and a
key player in the aluminium industry. The production of aluminium causes many sustainability
challenges, including biodiversity loss and land use change. The Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI)
is a voluntary alliance of companies and NGOs; its aim is to establish a certification to decrease the
sustainability impacts of aluminium. Despite high expectations, little is known about the motivation
for the ASI, its strengths and weaknesses and legitimacy as a governance mechanism.
This thesis analyses the viability of aluminium certification, concentrating specifically on the motivation
for the standard, its potential effectiveness and legitimacy as a governance mechanism. To carry out
the analysis, I use Germany as a case. Grounded in sustainability science and transdisciplinarity, I used
a literature review and in-depth interviews with German stakeholders from the industry, civil society
and academia to create solution-oriented knowledge. My research is located in the field of
sustainability science, as it expands the field into the realm of sustainability certification and applies a
transdisciplinary research. The findings of this study reveal that underlying motivations for the ASI are
competitive advantages, risk mitigation and reputation for involved companies. The motivation to
increase the sustainability of the production chain is only secondary. Despite the involvement of
stakeholders, the actual legitimacy of the ASI is contested, as NGOs lack capacities to engage deeply in
such a multi-stakeholder approach. Truly affected stakeholders, such as indigenous people, are only
indirectly represented. As there is no functioning alternative to a voluntary certification, the ASI is the
only applicable mechanism to tackle cross-border challenges of aluminium. Regardless of the limited
legitimacy, the ASI has the potential to improve the sustainability of certain parts of the production
chain, and can act as a role model.
Albeit the great expectations on the ASI, a certification alone is not sufficient to solve affiliated
sustainability challenges. Additional measures, such as capacity development and the mitigation of
corruption, are necessary for less impactful aluminium production systems. In the long run, a transition
is needed towards a circular economy that uses only recycled aluminium. Until humanity reaches such
a sustainable economy, the ASI is the most promising tool to diminish at least some sustainability
challenges of aluminium. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Heidingsfelder, Jens LU
supervisor
organization
course
MESM02 20151
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
key informant interview, Germany, Aluminium stewardship initiative, corporate social responsibility, resource certification, sustainability science
publication/series
Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science
report number
2015:008
funder
Heinrich Böll Foundation
language
English
id
5463339
date added to LUP
2015-06-03 12:43:25
date last changed
2015-06-03 12:43:25
@misc{5463339,
  abstract     = {Mining bauxite and producing aluminium causes severe sustainability challenges. Although the usage
of these non-renewable resource is inherently unsustainable, the global economy fosters an increased
use of supposed “eco-friendly” aluminium. German industry is an important user of aluminium and a
key player in the aluminium industry. The production of aluminium causes many sustainability
challenges, including biodiversity loss and land use change. The Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI)
is a voluntary alliance of companies and NGOs; its aim is to establish a certification to decrease the
sustainability impacts of aluminium. Despite high expectations, little is known about the motivation
for the ASI, its strengths and weaknesses and legitimacy as a governance mechanism.
This thesis analyses the viability of aluminium certification, concentrating specifically on the motivation
for the standard, its potential effectiveness and legitimacy as a governance mechanism. To carry out
the analysis, I use Germany as a case. Grounded in sustainability science and transdisciplinarity, I used
a literature review and in-depth interviews with German stakeholders from the industry, civil society
and academia to create solution-oriented knowledge. My research is located in the field of
sustainability science, as it expands the field into the realm of sustainability certification and applies a
transdisciplinary research. The findings of this study reveal that underlying motivations for the ASI are
competitive advantages, risk mitigation and reputation for involved companies. The motivation to
increase the sustainability of the production chain is only secondary. Despite the involvement of
stakeholders, the actual legitimacy of the ASI is contested, as NGOs lack capacities to engage deeply in
such a multi-stakeholder approach. Truly affected stakeholders, such as indigenous people, are only
indirectly represented. As there is no functioning alternative to a voluntary certification, the ASI is the
only applicable mechanism to tackle cross-border challenges of aluminium. Regardless of the limited
legitimacy, the ASI has the potential to improve the sustainability of certain parts of the production
chain, and can act as a role model.
Albeit the great expectations on the ASI, a certification alone is not sufficient to solve affiliated
sustainability challenges. Additional measures, such as capacity development and the mitigation of
corruption, are necessary for less impactful aluminium production systems. In the long run, a transition
is needed towards a circular economy that uses only recycled aluminium. Until humanity reaches such
a sustainable economy, the ASI is the most promising tool to diminish at least some sustainability
challenges of aluminium.},
  author       = {Heidingsfelder, Jens},
  keyword      = {key informant interview,Germany,Aluminium stewardship initiative,corporate social responsibility,resource certification,sustainability science},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science},
  title        = {Let's talk aluminium : Evaluating the aluminium stewardship initiative's effectiveness and applicability as a mechanism in sustainability governance from a multi-stakeholder perspective},
  year         = {2015},
}