Southeast Asia’s largest integrated aluminium producer, Press Metal Aluminium Holdings Bhd, has grown by leaps and bounds since it began its journey 36 years ago as a local aluminium extrusion company. Given its scale, the 2019 Company of the Year of The Edge Billion Ringgit Club (BRC) is consciously intensifying its efforts towards sustainable growth by reducing its own carbon footprint while also advocating “the inherent sustainability of aluminium due to its infinite recyclability characteristics” in all aspects of life — “from the automobile we drive, the buildings we dwell in, to the food and drinks we consume”.

Guided by its mantra of “growing responsibly for a better future”, its chairman Datuk Yvonne Chia says in its 2021 annual report that Press Metal started last year “on a green footing” as it adopted a carbon neutral policy on Jan 1, 2021 “in pursuit of carbon neutrality by 2050” even as its customers increasingly focus on the actual carbon footprint of its products.

That journey is still a “work in progress”, but its efforts so far, and perhaps that image of a large green footprint on the cover of that annual report, won over the BRC’s panel of judges for corporate responsibility (CR) this year as Press Metal was named a joint winner for Best CR Initiatives among super big cap (above RM40 billion market capitalisation) companies. Among other things, Press Metal says it avoided at least 210,729 tonnes in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in FY2021 by recovering 15,682 tonnes of post-consumer aluminium scrap and through the use of solar energy.

“The GHG emissions intensity was lowered by 5.9% in the fourth quarter of FY2021 which can be attributed to increased carbon consumption efficiency while the improved energy efficiency has lowered the GHG emissions intensity by 0.4% in the second half of FY2021 (2HFY2021),” the company says in its annual report.

Press Metal adds that its smelters also ramped up its pot relining efforts during 2HFY2021, potentially reducing about 2,700 tonnes CO2-eq per annum, and achieved a 94.5% waste recycling rate from the 129,923 tonnes of waste disposed of in FY2021. Water withdrawal intensity was reduced by 11.6% from 2016. It also reported zero biodiversity-related impacts and zero significant spills in FY2021. As for energy consumption, Press Metal says it registered a reduction of 1.1 million gigajoule (GJ) year on year. Headquartered in Selangor, Press Metal — with 1.08 million tonnes smelting capacity per annum — operates in Malaysia and China, while also keeping distribution offices in Australia, the US and Europe to meet local and regional demand.

“I am happy to say that for FY2021, Press Metal has moved a step forward in realising both its interim and long-term targets. The group continues to record an excellent occupational health and safety track record with zero fatalities and reduced loss time incidents.

“We remain on track to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. It has been challenging but we are heartened by our progress and will continue to drive it forward,” its group CEO Tan Sri Koon Poh Keong says in the annual report.

The group believes that the end products that the company manufactures support many sustainable or green industries, including sustainable building materials, electric vehicles, renewable energy and alternatives for plastic packaging, especially for consumer products.

To optimise its existing smelting technology, Press Metal has allocated RM28 million as an initial budget for FY2022 and beyond to fund investments in new technologies or innovation to reduce energy consumption and decarbonise production processes.

Besides that, Press Metal says it has supported local procurement to stimulate socio-economic development. According to the company, 95% of its suppliers were locally based in FY2021. Switching to a Malaysian supplier for distributor nozzle heads resulted in estimated cost savings of 66% to 90% from lower transport and material costs, Press Metal says, noting that the move has also allowed its business to benefit from fewer risks of supply chain disruption.

For its social performance, Press Metal says there were zero cases of grievances reported through either grievance channels or the whistle-blowing channel in FY2021. The company has a total of 7,230 full-time employees with a turnover rate of 13.37%. Press Metal says it had spent RM920,000 under employee engagement in FY2021, of which its sports, recreational, welfare and culture committee has organised activities and programmes to promote work-life balance.

Press Metal also gave RM5.8 million in total contribution of cash and in-kind support to various community causes and organisations, noting that assistance provided included Covid-19-related aid and education scholarships. In addition, the company contributed PCR test kit equipment worth RM435,950 to Bintulu Hospital, a frontline hospital, during the Covid-19 pandemic.