Norton Aluminium

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Norton Aluminium is a secondary aluminium producer located in Staffordshire. The plant produces primary and secondary foundry alloys, master alloys, aerospace alloys (for 'defence'/arms applications) and sand castings, is active in the buying and selling of scrap metal both nationally and internationally, and has a net worth in excess of £3 million ($4.4 million)[1].

Aluminium for arms production

According to their website:

Norton produces the lion's share of the UK's requirements for aluminium aerospace and Formula 1 foundry alloys, to purity levels of 0.001% Fe.[2]

Norton names some of its customers as

BOC Edwards, BAE Systems, MSI Defence, VT Engine Controls, VA Tech Reyrolle, Perkins Engines, GEC Alstom, JCB and ThermoElectron[3].

Norton faces legal action from local residents

Local residents at Norton's Staffordshire plant have repeatedly complained about disturbing odour, dust and noise, which they claim has forced them to keep doors and windows closed, while they also lose sleep and cannot use their gardens[4].

In response Norton Aluminium's managing director Henry Dickinson revealed his unwillingness to concede to the residents, as it may set a difficult precedent for other dirty industries:

We've been on site for 56 years and before us there was a coal mine. I would guess that we pre-date 90% of the houses....It's sabre-rattling by the lawyers to try and force our insurance company to settle out of court, which we don't want to do... it would be counter-productive for the industry as a whole...If these people are successful, then they can complain about anything... which would be hugely damaging to UK manufacturing[5].

Fined for failing to prevent odour

According to Metal Bulletin, Dec 23rd 2008:

The company was found guilty and fined a total of £10,000 ($17,800) on three charges of failing to maintain a filter system at its plant in Staffordshire in February 2006. Stafford Magistrates' Court ruled that the company had failed to maintain an activated carbon filter system used to filter odour at the plant, to train staff in the use of the filter and to provide written instructions for its use. The case was brought to court by the EA. The company was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £4,000 in costs[6].

Claims of sustainability

Norton's website claims:

Our process [recycling] is inherently environmentally friendly and uses 5% of the energy required to make new aluminium[7].

While this is true, recycling aluminium still uses the same energy as producing new steel[8].

Aluminium is infinitely recyclable without loss of properties and will save 7 times the energy required in its initial production when used in vehicles as a substitute for steel, due to the fuel saving of lighter vehicles.[9]

These figures are heavily influenced by the aluminium industry's own research on light cars[10], and do not include much of the emissions from primary aluminium production, which is the most energy intensive industrial process in the world, producing some of the most potent greenhouse gases (perfluorocarbons)[11].

In food applications, aluminium provides an impermeable barrier to micro-organisms and extends shelf life, thus reducing waste and product costs[12].

Suggesting that foil packaging has decreased the level of food wastage is unrealistic as studies show that levels of food waste have increased progressively in recent years [13]. Furthermore, Norton don't claim to deal with the food industry, so this statement is not relevant to their activities.

In a global context there is approximately 400 million tonnes of aluminium in use, providing a stockpile for use and re-use by future generations[14].

Despite this the aluminium industry themselves admit that there is no intention to slow down primary extraction (and therefore impact), negating the reduction in resource use and pollution suggested in this claim. The European Aluminium Association's document "Life Cycle Assessment and Aluminium: What you need to know" (developed with the UK aluminium industry) states:

Nevertheless, whether aluminium is produced from bauxite or from scrap, these operations are not in competition with each other. They are both integrated and necessary parts of the aluminium material cycle.[15]

History

Affiliations

Clients

Norton names some of its customers as:

BOC Edwards, BAE Systems, MSI Defence, VT Engine Controls, VA Tech Reyrolle, Perkins Engines, GEC Alstom, JCB and ThermoElectron[16].

Publications

Contact

NORTON ALUMINIUM PRODUCTS LTD
Norton Green Lane
Norton Canes
Cannock
Staffs WS11 9PS
Tel: 01543 279329
Fax: 01543 275855

Resources

WikiSpooks profile of Norton Aluminium

Notes

  1. Barbara O'Donovan, Metal Bulletin Daily Alerts. December 23, 2008 Tuesday. [Norton Aluminium faces legal action from angry residents] Accessed 17/05/10
  2. Norton website Products Accessed 17/05/10
  3. Norton website Castings Accessed 17/05/10
  4. Barbara O'Donovan, Metal Bulletin Daily Alerts. December 23, 2008 Tuesday. [Norton Aluminium faces legal action from angry residents] Accessed 17/05/10
  5. Barbara O'Donovan, Metal Bulletin Daily Alerts. December 23, 2008 Tuesday. [Norton Aluminium faces legal action from angry residents] Accessed 17/05/10
  6. Barbara O'Donovan, Metal Bulletin Daily Alerts. December 23, 2008 Tuesday. [Norton Aluminium faces legal action from angry residents] Accessed 17/05/10
  7. Norton website Environment Accessed 17/05/10
  8. Das, S. and Padel, F. 2010,'Out of this earth: East India Adivasis and the aluminium cartel' Orient Blackswan
  9. Norton website Environment Accessed 17/05/10
  10. EAA Press release 'Aluminum Industry Continues to Add Value to a Greener Europe' June 25, 2009 Accessed 30/04/10
  11. Das S. and Padel F. 2010,'Out of this earth: East India Adivasis and the aluminium cartel' Orient Blackswan
  12. Norton website Environment Accessed 17/05/10
  13. Hall KD, Guo J, Dore M, Chow CC (2009)The Progressive Increase of Food Waste in America and Its Environmental Impact Institute of Preventive Medicine
  14. Norton website Environment Accessed 17/05/10
  15. European Aluminium Association, 2002 Life Cycle Assessment and Aluminium: What you need to know Accessed 13/05/10
  16. Norton website Castings Accessed 17/05/10