Rio Tinto's AP60 aluminum smelter in Quebec is one of the operations that has been certified by the Aluminum Stewardship Initiative. Courtesy of Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto will sell sustainably produced aluminum to Nespresso for use in its coffee capsules.

The company’s aluminum production was certified by the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI), a global non-profit made up of members of the “aluminum value chain” that creates sustainability and supply chain standards for the industry.

“We expect leadership in responsible production will become increasingly important for aluminum customers and the consumers who buy their products,” Rio Tinto spokesperson Matthew Klar said over email. “This first use by Nespresso is an important step toward encouraging wider use of ASI-certified aluminum across a wide range of manufacturing sectors.

Rio Tinto is the first mining company to produce ASI-certified aluminum.

Related: The retrofit at Rio Tinto's Kitimat operation has the smelter producing more without an increased footprint

The ASI’s standards ensure that aluminum production is environmentally efficient by taking biodiversity, Indigenous rights, water management and carbon emissions all into consideration. The ASI’s chain of custody standard allows end-users like Nespresso to be sure the aluminum they buy has been certified at each stage of the process.

ASI CEO Fiona Solomon said customers of ASI-certified companies could now be confident that what they get “represents the highest environmental, social and governance standards.”

Klar said Rio Tinto’s aluminum refinery, smelters and casthouses in Quebec and the associated infrastructure, as well as its Gove bauxite mine in Australia, have been certified by the ASI. Sites are certified after they have been independently audited. The company plans to have other sites certified, Klar said.

Nespresso’s current coffee capsules are made of aluminum to protect the ground coffee from air and light and, according to Nespresso, are melted down and recycled after use. Nespresso said that it plans to source 100 per cent sustainable aluminum by 2020.

Earlier this year Rio Tinto partnered with aluminum giant Alcoa to develop a carbon-free aluminum smelting process through their joint company Elysis, with financial support from Apple and the Canadian and Quebec governments.