Every industry has its unique characteristics and for the UK resources sector it must be collecting in a warehouse on the outskirts of Birmingham just as the summer starts to fade! But the RWM Exhibition, a fixed point on our calendar is the location for that ‘team hug’ before battle is recommenced once more. And what significant challenges we have on the mid-term horizon with a whole gamut of UK resources policy in various stages of discussion and deadlines looming on the European front. No shortage of topics to discuss in the fifteen seminar theatres or the Novelis stand – 4F 44 G43 if you want to pop by.
At Novelis, being engaged in ‘just aluminium’ must look simple to the outside observer, but we have our own complexities and challenges to for example, recycle a can to can. But they are challenges that we have been working at with stakeholders and customers for quite some time. There’s a theory in sustainable business practice that suggests that if you have an intractable problem – too big to solve, to tackle it you widen your scope to take in more issues and more opportunities for finding a solution. That describes pretty well Novelis’ approach over recent years. To support our customers in can making and car manufacturing we have expanded our footprint and joined up our assets. That means that we recycle used aluminium beverage cans here in the UK but also in Germany. For carmakers, we can produce recycled metal in the UK, but also in Germany and Switzerland. And for all materials we need to use our rolling and finishing mills which are located overseas. Such flexibility and interchangeability has become second nature for circular and robust value chains and demanded by the global customers we supply. In fact to take full advantage of this opportunity Novelis runs a daily train through the Channel Tunnel (the only company to have dedicated rolling stock and scheduling) to take ingots of recycled metal into our mainland European plants for finishing and return with finished goods (sheets of recycled metal) for our can and car making customers here in the UK.
Of course this sort of circular and European business model could be under stress after 29th March 2019 and is also challenged by other global shifts in trade patterns and tariffs. That said I’m confident that whatever the machinations of politics and government over the next 12 months, Novelis will continue ‘business as usual’ – able to offer the capacity to recycle all the used aluminium beverage cans consumed here in the UK market and seamless supplies of high quality recycled aluminium sheet to our customers. As for the longer-term, well that’s another story and one no doubt we’ll discuss in Birmingham and elsewhere.
If you have any queries short, medium or long-term just come to the stand and we’ll do our best to tackle them, just like we’ve always done. So I will enjoy my time at the NEC in the knowledge that in another warehouse just thirty miles away at our rail and distribution centre, part of the Novelis system continues to seamlessly manage the flow of materials in that circular style that has become so fashionable of late.