The race is on for recycled aluminium

This week, we heard from Aerobal with a piece about how aluminium aerosols offer tailor-made sustainability solutions.  

The company commented that over the last decade, the global aluminium aerosol can industry has achieved a ‘remarkable’ average growth rate of about 3.5 per cent due to its convincing functional, consumer-oriented and environmental performance. Meanwhile, in other voluminous end-use markets such as the automotive and building industry, aluminium has been in increasingly high demand. 

It also pointed out that over the past couple of years, the demand for aluminium products with recycled metal content has continually increased leading to a situation where high demand meets limited availability of recycled material because the entire aluminium market is growing and the metal is often bound in the products for decades (e.g. in cars and buildings) before it is available for recycling. Currently, only about 30 per cent of the global demand for aluminium can be satisfied by recycled material.

Be it pre- or post-consumer scrap, recycled aluminium is in short supply in all end-use markets; not to mention high-purity scrap which can live up to the demanding requirements of aluminium aerosol can production.  

Aerobal president, Leopold Werdich, said: “Nevertheless, the aluminium aerosol can industry has faced the music and taken up this challenge. Today, thanks to the innovative drive and constructive cooperation of the supply chain partners, new alloys do not only allow to achieve significantly lighter cans but they can also contain a defined quantity of recycled aluminium which improves the environmental performance of the finished can without impairing the functionality and safety of the can.” 

“A very crucial thing in this context is a transparent documentation of the (recycled) material flows in the value chain which clearly demonstrates what kind of recycled material found its way into the can. Any greenwashing would do harm to the aluminium aerosol can industry and their customers and put the excellent reputation of aluminium at risk”, said Aerobal secretary general, Gregor Spengler. 

Therefore, the company says that customers can choose from the different recycled material options, as long as the desired recycled material in the required specification is available. But even if there is not enough recycled aluminium available for everybody who wants it, aluminium as such, be it primary or recycled aluminium, is a so-called permanent material which can be almost endlessly recycled without any loss in quality thanks to its inherent material properties. This positively differentiates it from many other packaging materials. 

Aerobal continued by saying that what really matters in the end, is the closing of the material loop so that no aluminium gets lost on the way wherever it was used. In this context, it really helps that aluminium is the packaging material with the highest scrap value offering a convincing incentive to properly collect and recycle it. In addition, increasingly sophisticated collection and sorting technologies in the packaging waste management systems throughout the world also contribute to increase the quantity and quality of the recycled materials. 

The company concluded the statement by saying that efficiently closing the material loop leads to utmost resource efficiency and sustainability to the benefit and for the well-being of future generations. 

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