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ASI News - August 2015

A Look at Risk-Based Assurance

ASI plans to take a risk-based approach to assurance.  So what is 'assurance', and how might a risk-based approach work?

Assurance explained

An 'assurance model' describes in detail how a certification or auditing system will work in practice.  ASI will set outs its approach in an ASI Assurance Manual that can be used by companies and auditors.  This will cover the following kinds of questions:
General Approach
  • Who can carry out assessments
  • What entities are assessed – the scope of the assessment
  • How often do assessments take place
  • How long should assessments take for different risks and varying sizes and types of clients
  • How to recognise parallel standards and existing control systems
  • Whether assessors can play a role in capacity building, if required
Assessment Process
  • How should clients and assurance providers prepare for an assessment
  • What types of objective evidence are assessed and how
  • How should sampling be undertaken
  • How are conformance and non-conformance levels defined
  • How is overall conformity with the standard determined
Assessment Outcomes
  • How are assessment outcomes reported
  • How are decisions made on certification
  • How are certificates and product marks issued and used
  • What do clients need to do about non-conformities
  • What are the requirements for surveillance and re-assessment
Managing Risks
  • What controls are in place for quality and consistency of assessments
  • How are potential conflicts of interest to be identified and mitigated
  • How can stakeholders raise concerns and how will they be addressed
  • What sanctions will apply in the case of serious breaches

Taking a risk-based approach

There are many different models of assurance that are credible and appropriate for different circumstances.  ASI has the opportunity to be innovative in the design of its approach.  

Good practice among standards organisations continues to evolve as they reflect on how to continually improve in the context of growing uptake.  Often, sustainability standards find that only a small fraction of their standards' requirements have a high risk of unsustainable practice.  Certification programs are thus increasingly using risk-based approaches to assurance, in order to reduce unnecessary costs as well as increase credibility.

Most standards systems focus on certifying practices in upstream production (eg sugar, cotton, fish, forest products etc).  Many also apply chain-of-custody requirements as these materials move downstream through the value chain to users.  In some cases, certified product is identifiably delivered to consumers under an ecolabel.  ASI is more unusual among standards systems in setting performance requirements at nearly all steps in the value chain.

This value chain approach has benefits in sharing responsibility for sustainability commitments among a much wider range of actors.  It also means that certain requirements will have higher or lower risks depending on a range of factors, including:
  • The sector of operation and processing activities used
  • The size and organisational context of the operation
  • The geographic location
  • The potential impact of non-conformance, in terms of serious imminent impact on people, the environment or business integrity.
In the coming months, ASI will be developing a risk framework for its assurance model that is informed by these types of factors, for piloting in mid-2016.  We welcome stakeholder interest in this process.


Metal Bulletin International Aluminium Conference - Vancouver, 21 September 2015

The international aluminium community will be gathering in Vancouver, September 21-23, for Metal Bulletin’s 30th International Aluminium Conference. This annual event brings together some 500 senior executives from all stages of the aluminium value chain and from all five continents to examine and debate key issues and challenges facing the industry globally. The conference features sessions focusing on automotive and aerospace use of aluminium, primary smelting trends and innovations, market dynamics in the energy, bauxite, alumina and coke/carbon sectors, and China, the world’s biggest aluminium marketplace.  Pre-conference visits to Rio Tinto Alcan’s Kitimat smelter in BC and to the Boeing assembly plant near Seattle are also being organised.  

Following on from ASI's initial appearance at the 28th International Aluminium Conference two years ago in Geneva, we will be holding a second workshop as part of the Vancouver conference.  The session will update the aluminium industry on ASI and the business case for taking it on board, plus work on ASI standards and the development of the assurance model for third-party certification along the value chain.

For more information, see:  http://www.metalbulletin.com/events/international-aluminium-conference/agenda.html
ASI Briefing - London, 12 October 2015

ASI will be holding a briefing meeting for all interested stakeholders in London on Monday 12 October, 2015, from 2.30-4pm.  The meeting is being kindly hosted by Rexam PLC, 4 Millbank, London SW1P 3XR.  All are welcome.

The session will provide an overview of ASI's continuing development as a third party certification program, including its work to date in standards setting, and the development of its governance, membership and assurance models.  Come along to find out more, ask questions, and meet the ASI Executive Director and participating member companies.

To RSVP your attendance, please email:  michelle@aluminium-stewardship.org 


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