NOVEMBER 2011

Aluminum industry improves sustainability
Seventy percent of all aluminum ever manufactured is still in use today

The full report can be downloaded at www.aluminum.org/SustainabilityReport

A study released by the Aluminum Association documents across-the-board sustainability improvements in the North American aluminum industry. Among the findings of the report, “Aluminum: The Element of Sustainability,” are that, since 1991:

  • Primary energy demand associated with primary aluminum production has been reduced 17 percent;
  • Primary energy demand associated with secondary aluminum production has been reduced 58 percent;
  • Cumulative greenhouse gas emissions associated with primary aluminum production have been reduced 72 percent;
  • Cumulative greenhouse gas emissions associated with secondary aluminum production have been reduced 65 percent.

“This study puts hard data behind the key metrics that define sustainability for the aluminum industry,” said Steve Larkin, president of the Aluminum Association. “It details dramatic reductions in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions that the industry has achieved through process and technological improvements.”

The report also quantifies aluminum’s sustainability contributions during the product and end-of-life phases.

Aluminum’s use in automotive and light truck applications alone almost wholly neutralizes the environmental impacts associated with the industry’s primary production activities, the study found. “Light-weighting” vehicles with aluminum in 2009 offset:

•Ninety percent of the energy consumption associated with primary aluminum production;

•Ninety-six percent of cumulative greenhouse gas emissions associated with primary aluminum production.

Recycling aluminum – which uses only 5 percent of the energy and generates only 5 percent of the emissions associated with primary aluminum production – further compounds the metal’s sustainability dividends.

According to the report, in 2009, the recycling of aluminum offset approximately 88 percent of major resource use associated with primary aluminum production.

“This report adds significantly to the growing body of research that indicates that the North American aluminum industry – and the products it produces – is on a path to becoming truly sustainable,” said Larkin.

“Seventy percent of all the aluminum ever manufactured – dating back 125 years and over multiple generations – is still in use today. With aluminum’s ability to be recycled infinitely, our industry intends to grow that percentage ever higher by recycling all of our aluminum for future generations’ use,” he added.