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.