In a largest global greenfield expansion undertaken by Aditya Birla Group, Novelis Inc – the US subsidiary of Hindalco Industries – on Wednesday announced an investment of $2.5 billion to build a new low-carbon recycling and rolling plant in Bay Minette, Alabama, US. The investment will take the group’s total investment to over $14 billion across businesses in the US.
The facility will have an initial 600 kilo tonne of finished aluminium goods capacity per year, the company said in a statement. With the addition of a new recycling centre for beverage cans, Novelis will soon be able to recycle 90 billion cans globally, up from the 74 billion used beverage cans it currently recycles.
Commenting on the investment, Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman, Aditya Birla Group, said: “This investment marks the start of another transformational growth phase for Novelis. We continue to invest in each of the markets Novelis serves – from beverage cans to automotive, aerospace and specialties – and in all geographies. This is also the largest global greenfield expansion project of the Aditya Birla Group and will take the group’s total investment in the US across businesses to over $14 billion.”
The investment gains significance as the facility will be the first fully integrated aluminium mill built in the US in 40 years. It is expected to create up to 1,000 high-paying, advanced careers in modern manufacturing, the company statement said. The facility will also rely on railroad transportation, which can reduce logistics-related carbon emissions by up to 70% compared with road transport. The plant will make significant use of advanced automation and digital technologies, including artificial intelligence, augmented reality and robotics.
“To support this, Novelis has been working to develop circular economies for aluminium through state and federal public policies, as well as through partnerships with customers and other stakeholders on new approaches that encourage and incentivise US consumers to recycle more often,” the statement said.
Novelis’ decision to build a fully integrated, greenfield recycling and rolling plant is backed by strong North American demand for flat-rolled, low-carbon aluminium from can makers and beverage companies. With an average “can-to-can” life cycle of a couple of months, a can that is recycled at present can be back on store shelves within 60 days.
More than half of the capacity of the new facility will be used to serve growing demand for aluminium beverage can sheet in North America, which is driven by consumer preference for more sustainable packaging.
Steve Fisher, president and CEO of Novelis Inc, said: “Through this investment, we are making a demonstrative commitment to continue to grow alongside our customers and meet their needs for low-carbon, highly sustainable aluminium solutions. We are well-positioned to efficiently expand capacity at this facility in the future – above the 600 kt announced today – to capture ongoing strong demand.”
The site work is under way at present and the company expects to begin commissioning the facility by mid-2025. In addition to the beverage can market, the facility will also serve the automotive market, where aluminium is the fastest growing material as automakers make plans to achieve their sustainability goals.