Sustainable Development at Alcoa|Business Ethics Case Studies

Sustainable Development at Alcoa

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Alcoa - Background Note

Alcoa's origins can be traced back to 1886 when Charles Martin Hall (Hall) discovered a high-volume, low-cost smelting process for producing aluminum. He persuaded a group of six industrialists to finance his discovery and established the Pittsburg Reduction Company.n 1888, Hall, in association with Arthur Vining Davis (Davis), produced aluminum for commercial use for the first time. However, there was no ready market for this product since manufacturers refused to make products using an unfamiliar metal.

.Davis began to sell the idea of manufacturing aluminum household products by making a few products himself such as a tea kettle and cooking utensils. Meanwhile, Hall kept improving the aluminum manufacturing process and developed new alloys. As a result of the continuous development process, Hall managed to reduce the price of aluminum to 78 cents/pound by 1893 from $4.86/pound in 1888. The versatility of aluminum and the low costs soon began attracting manufacturers.......

Business Ethics Case Studies | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Business Ethics, Case Studies
Business Ethics Case Studies | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Business Ethics, Case Studies
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Sustainable Development - The Alcoa Way

Alcoa had begun implementing SD initiatives as early as the 1950s, much before the term was even accepted in the corporate world. The company had established the Alcoa Foundation, a not for profit organization, in 1952.This foundation actively provided monetary assistance in the form of community and global grants to improve the quality of life of people in more than 29 countries where it had operations then. The Foundation focused on these areas: Global Education in Business, Science, Engineering and Technology; Skills Today for Tomorrow; Business and Community Partnerships; Safe and Healthy Children and Families; and Conservation and Sustainability (Refer Exhibit IV for a description of each area).....

The Alcoa Business System

As a result of a comprehensive global expansion exercise undertaken during the 1990s, Alcoa quadrupled in size and its employee base doubled. During this period, the top management found that the SD initiatives taken up at the global level were unstructured and uncoordinated. Though most of its subsidiaries at various locations undertook several SD initiatives, there was no coordination between different subsidiaries.To check this anomaly, Alcoa decided to increase employee awareness of its ethics and compliance programs. This resulted in the establishment of the 'Ethics and Compliance Program,' which included globally published workplace standards and a global education program.....

Recent Initiatives

In 1999, 15 Alcoa locations were certified with the ISO 14001 standard. In the same year, the company formulated the 2020 Strategic Framework, a 20-year vision framework for environment management and SD. It allowed all company units to develop their individual goals and action plans within this framework. This framework was formulated with the aim of balancing the social, economic and environmental sustainability and had six objectives (Refer Table II for details).....

Sustainably Developing the Future

In 2003, Alcoa took a major step towards sustainability by announcing that its new aluminum production plant in Eastern Iceland would be designed in a way that would eliminate health and safety hazards. It reported that the new plant would have very little negative impact on the environment since it was designed to 'achieve strict, self imposed sustainable development objectives'......


Exhibit I: Alcoa and Greening Australia - Community and Environmental Issues Taken Up
Exhibit II: The Alcoa and Greening Australia Partnership - Major milestones
Exhibit III: Sustainable Development Vs Unsustainable Development
Exhibit IV: Alcoa Foundation - Areas Of Focus
Exhibit V: A Note on Aluminum and its Contribution to Sustainability
Exhibit VI: Alcoa - Environmental, Health and Safety Awards (1998)
Exhibit VII: Alcoa - Goals for Achieving the 2020 Strategic Framework
Exhibit VIII: Alcoa - Environmental, Health and Safety Awards (1999-2002)
Exhibit IX: Alcoa - Workplace Health and Safety Initiatives