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.


GreenHouse Gases

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.

Climate Change

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.