Recycling is very important to sustainable development. It allows resources to be saved and waste to be reduced.
Used aluminium can be endlessly recycled without loss in quality.
Only 5 percent of the energy required to produce primary aluminium is needed to remelt aluminium for new uses.
Emissions are reduced and changes in the landscape because of mining and refining are avoided.
Compared to production of “new” aluminium, recycling of post-consumer aluminium (like aluminium cans) saves a lot of energy and CO2.
The world’s stock of aluminium in use is like a resource bank. Around 75 percent of aluminium ever produced is still in use, and some of it has been through countless recycle loops.
With the energy it takes to make aluminium for one new can, we can make enough for 20 recycled ones. So the more times aluminium gets reused, the more energy efficient it becomes.
Many aluminium products have a long life, for instance in cars or buildings, and because of this recycled aluminium can only supply 20-25% of the current aluminium demand. The rest must be produced from primary aluminium.
The recycling industry plays an important part of the aluminium life cycle. The amount of recycled metal is increasing, and the recyclers have new and better ways to minimize emissions from the smelting of used metal.
Aluminium recycling industry includes:
Europe and North America – has an economically strong and technically advanced aluminium recycling industry, generated over the past 70 years.
Japan – stopped domestic primary aluminium production and switched to aluminium recycling in the 1980s. China, India and Russia – has started increasing their recycling activities.
In many countries, authorities are encouraging to recycle more aluminium. Gravita has also set strategic goals to increase our production of recycled metal.
In the future there will be more post-consumer metal scrap returned to the recycling industry, and we need to be prepared.
Gravita is focused on:
Aircraft, automobiles, bicycles, boats, computers, household appliances, wire and cans are all sources for recycling.
At the end of their useful life, the recycled product may be the same as the original product, like a can to can.
But more often a completely different product is made from recycling, like a car wheel that is recycled into a gearbox.
About 25 % of the aluminium produced every year is made for the transportation sector.
The use of aluminium in cars is growing:
To get the aluminium out of an old car:
Mixed alloy aluminium scrap like this is then usually used to make casting alloys for engines and gearboxes.
In Europe, 95 % of the aluminium scrap from cars is currently being recycled.
Every year, around 13 million metric tons of aluminium is used in construction. As we speak, 220 million metric tons of aluminium is currently in use in buildings worldwide.
After demolishing a building, aluminium (in contrast to other building materials) can be recycled in a way that is economically and environmentally sustainable.
In 2004 a study found that collection rates for aluminium in European buildings were between 92 % and 98 %.
There are basically two different types of packaging:
Aluminium beverage cans are the larger part of rigid and semi-rigid packaging globally. Thanks to techniques developed, its possible to recycle old scrap into ingots that can fabricate wrought products (such as can stock). Scrap like this has high aluminium content and also a high market value.
Flexible packaging waste has low aluminium content, because the packaging is very thin and often laminated with paper and plastic.
The aluminium can still be extracted from laminates by special techniques.
How much packaging material that is collected in each country, depends on a lot of things, government initiatives, deposit systems, recycling charges and even advertising.
In Europe, 30-90 % of cans are collected; the average number for a European country is 70 %. For all rigid packaging put together, the European recycling rate is 50%.
Some authorities and environmental organizations want to have “green labels” on products that contain a lot of recycled material. Because the availability of aluminium scrap is limited, labels like this could lead to discrimination of aluminium versus other materials. Or in other words; to increase the recycled content in one aluminium product we would have to decrease the recycled content in another product.
Aluminium’s high market value means that almost all scrap will always be used for recycling, instead of being wasted or stockpiled.
Gravita remelt process scrap from both or our own production and other companies.
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