PROFILE: CAA - local anodes made green

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CAA services the Australian, New Zealand and South Pacific market with over 600 anode types.
CAA services the Australian, New Zealand and South Pacific market with over 600 anode types.

Cathodic Anodes Australasia is focused on improving the environmental standards of local anode manufacturing.

The general manager at Cathodic Anodes Australasia (CAA) Ross Gorfine is an avid water-lover who has been fishing, surfing, swimming and paddling for almost his entire life. Since CAA was formed back in 1984, his love for the ocean has been instrumental in steering the company according to high environmental standards.

“Our first step was to focus on our internal processes. It was a simple to-do list to save energy and reduce our environmental footprint,” he explains. “We chipped away at that list over many years. Some items were simple, such as reduce, reuse and recycle and changing to energy efficient LED lighting. Other objectives were huge, like building a new factory based on Lean manufacturing principles where energy efficiency, water and waste management played a key role in the design.”

The 320-panel rooftop solar array consistently achieves energy savings of up to 30%.
The 320-panel rooftop solar array consistently achieves energy savings of up to 30%.

One of the company’s most significant environmental achievements has been to take advantage of
solar power, particularly impressive given the large amount of power required to make anodes. A 320 panel solar array installed in 2014 consistently achieves energy savings of up to 30%.

Sourcing the right ingots

Gorfine says that in recent years CAA’s focus on environmental objectives inside the factory has matured.

“Although there is always room for improvement, we have ticked off most of our key environmental objectives within the factory. Eventually we will replace some of our aging equipment with more energy efficient equipment, but that is a long-term goal which will be achieved as funds become available and the older equipment is no longer up to the task.

“After focusing on our factory, we also reviewed the environmental credentials of our supply chain. We are Australia’s largest aluminium and zinc anode supplier, so sourcing ingot and steel from well-credentialed producers is important.”

Environmental emissions from ingot smelters around the world vary significantly. A key factor in controlling emissions is the environmental regulations put in place by governments in each country. Australia has amongst the toughest environmental regulations in the world, where permissible emissions are highly regulated and periodically monitored to ensure that air, water and soil quality do not exceed acceptable limits.

CAA currently sources all of its ingots from Australian producers.
CAA currently sources all of its ingots from Australian producers.

In comparison Gorfine says a lot of anodes are now being manufactured in China where environmental regulations are often poorly monitored and even more poorly enforced, resulting in the release of significant volumes of pollutants.

CAA currently sources all of its ingots from Australian producers. In mid-2017, CAA’s long-term zinc ingot supplier, Sun Metals, based outside Townsville, commenced construction of a 116MW solar farm which will deliver about a third of the company’s total energy needs.

Keeping it local

CAA sources the majority of its steel from a company in Rooty Hill in NSW which utilises 100% steel scrap. Gorfine says he encourages all boat owners to do the right thing with their spent anodes: don’t thrown them in the bin to become landfill but rather find your nearest metal recycling bin and give old anodes a chance at life as some other product.

Ross Gorfine's love of the water has been instrumental in driving CAA's environmental initiatives.
Ross Gorfine's love of the water has been instrumental in driving CAA's environmental initiatives.

Gorfine says that buying from a local manufacturer with a local supply chain also means that carbon emissions from transportation are substantially reduced. For instance, a local anode cast by CAA at Kunda Park in Queensland comprising an aluminium ingot from Gladstone in Queensland and a steel insert from Rooty Hill has a supply chain of just 1,475km. In comparison, anodes cast in China and exported to Australia rack up thousands of kilometres in travel during manufacture and distribution.

CAA services the Australia, NZ and South Pacific anode market with over 600 different anode types, more than 95% of which are cast in Queensland. The remaining 5% are imported because the demand for these anode types is too small to justify the cost of setting up new tooling. Gorfine says CAA’s next item on the environmental agenda is to evaluate their overseas suppliers in terms of their environmental credentials.

“We have a lot of work to do, but we have a great team and we will continue to work on improving our environmental credentials within our factory, within our supply chain and with our customers, as we have always done.”

This article was first published in the April-May 2018 issue of Marine Business magazine.

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