One of the main goals for the aluminium industry is to improve environmental performance throughout all life-cycle stages of aluminium products. This environmental performance is continuously improved by:

1.Efficient use of resources such as raw materials and energy.
2.Reduction of emissions to air and water.
3.Improvement and development of process technology.
4.Reduction of waste and increased recycling.

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Aluminium can be recycled again and again without any loss of its inherent properties, since its atomic structure is not altered during melting. The high value of aluminium scrap is a key incentive and major economic impetus for recycling. Accordingly for most aluminium products, the metal is not actually consumed during the product's lifetime, but simply used with the potential to be used again through recycling.

The energy needed to melt aluminium scrap is only a fraction of that required for primary aluminium production. Recycling of aluminium products needs only 5% of the energy required for primary aluminium production. In addition, recycling of aluminium products only emits 5% of the greenhouse gas emitted in primary aluminium production. Recycling of scrap from used products ("old scrap") saved over 70 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide in 2005. Since its inception, the recycling of old scrap has already avoided over one billion metric tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Recycling is a major aspect of continued aluminium use, as more than a third of all the aluminium currently produced globally originates from recycled metal; a trend which is on the increase.

The aluminium recycling industry recycles all the aluminium scrap it can obtain from end-of-life products and aluminium by-products. The rate at which end-of-life aluminium is recycled varies depending on the product sector, scrap processing technology and on society's commitment to collect aluminium containing products at end-of-life. Each application sector requires its own recycling solutions and the industry supports initiatives that seek to optimise the recycling rate.

The Construction sector recycled up to 98% of aluminium used. The sector used 1.3 million tonnes of aluminium in 2007.

Beverage cans, recycled 62% in 2003, 64% in 2006 and 66% in 2007. The sector used 4.5 million tonnes in 2007.

Automotive recycled up to 95% of the aluminium. The sector used 14.5 million tonnes in 2007.

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The challenge for the industry lies in the relatively high-energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production of primary aluminium. Aluminium is responsible for 1% of the global human-induced greenhouse gas emissions that scientists with the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) identify as a cause of global warming.
The industry employs a lifecycle approach to address the challenges of climate change, focusing not only on the energy required to produce aluminium products but also on the energy savings to be made through their use and reuse.


The 150 countries party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change met in Kyoto in December 1997 and responded to the threat of climate change by agreeing a Protocol to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

The aluminium industry emits certain greenhouse gases. The aluminium industry has demonstrated its readiness to address its responsibility for these emissions.

The aluminium industry has consistently reduced energy use by applying greater energy efficiency during the production process is constantly sought especially as energy is the prime cost in the production process. Aluminium has always been used in applications (transportation, building, packaging) where weight saving and energy efficiency are essential criteria. For example, aluminium is increasingly the preferred material in all types of transport applications in order to lower fuel consumption.

The aluminium industry has worked successfully to reduce its greenhouse gases emissions through voluntary industry initiatives and continuous technological advances have ensured that the aluminium industry has significantly cut its emissions of greenhouse gases. CO2 emissions have been reduced by 10% in the past ten years and PFCs emissions with reference to the 1990 levels are reduced by more than 80% in 2005.

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Efficient use of energy
The aluminium industry is particularly concerned about the wise use of energy for two reasons:

1.Because aluminium is energy intensive, the aluminium industry constantly focuses on the efficient use of energy. There is no energy alternative for the sector to electricity, which represents a large part of aluminium production costs. The industry has its own interests at stake in becoming more energy efficient. The efficiency of aluminium smelters has shown a steady improvement since the 1950s, and electricity consumption has fallen by more than a third over that period. The average energy consumption per tonne of aluminium’s world smelters is 15.6 Mw/h per tonne of aluminium. The Gulf’s average is 14 Mw/h per tonne of aluminium, which is considered most significant.

2.Energy is stored in aluminium products and can be re-used: aluminium products can be turned into recycled aluminium saving up to 95% of the energy used in primary production. Aluminium products are intrinsically a formidable source of energy. The recuperation of used aluminium products is thus both energy-efficient and cost-efficient for the industry.

The aluminium industry is constantly researching ways to use energy more effectively by:

1.Maximising the energy-saving potential of aluminium products. Down-gauging, using thinner and stronger aluminium sections, is constantly researched and developed to reduce the energy needed for their production, use and transportation.

2.Increasing recycling through improved aluminium collection. The industry is supporting the increasing recycling effort and contributes to further developing technologies for collection and sorting improvements.

3.Streamlining energy use during production. General energy consumption throughout the production process is expected to be reduced as a consequence of technology development and upgrading of existing installations. Continuously improved technology has allowed reductions in energy consumption for electrolysis.

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