Recycling

The German aluminium recycling industry is one of the frontrunners in Europe, with about 700,000 tonnes a year. In addition, recycling rates are over 90 per cent in some cases and recycling conserves extremely amounts of energy and resources.

Recycling of aluminium on the increase

Recycling is becoming increasingly more important particularly in countries like Germany with few natural resources. However, in addition to the national-economy aspect, the recycling of aluminium offers ecological and economic benefits. It only requires five per cent of the energy used to produce primary aluminium. Furthermore, recycling reduces emissions. Germany is the world leader when it comes to recycling in the packaging sector. This is because all packaging, whether it be aluminium cans or foil, is recycled and new aluminium is obtained from the used products and processed to make new, high-grade products. However, it is too narrow a view to illustrate recycling by only taking optimisation of the energy required into consideration. Recycling conserves resources, eases the demands made on waste disposal sites, reduces emissions. In short, recycling is worthwhile for the environment.

In Germany, more aluminium is now produced via the secondary route than the primary one. This optimises the life-cycle assessment of aluminium products with respect to the consumption of energy and water, waste produced, emissions, consumption of raw materials and disposal. This shows how year for year the material’s almost endless life cycle increasingly benefits man and his environment.

Recycling from the start

Aluminium’s intrinsic material value means that it has always been worthwhile returning the material to the loop that comprises metal extraction, processing, use and recovery.

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Conservation of resources

A sustainable approach to resources means using them more efficiently and also conserving non-renewable resources for future generations.

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Life-cycle assessments

Using the right packaging to prevent climate change

Comparing the transport of beverages makes it clear that compared with returnable glass bottles the use of aluminium stand-up pouches means almost twice as much content can be transported within the same space; emissions can thus be reduced considerably.

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Environmental management

Responsibility for the environment

Bauxite mining areas are rehabilitated systematically by the aluminium industry. Some 70 per cent of the area is reforested, 20 per cent is used for forestry or agricultural purposes and ten per cent is developed for residential, recreational and industrial areas.

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Interesting fact

GDA library

Books and articles of relevance to aluminium have been collected since the 1930s. The GDA library is open to the public and besides literature on aluminium it also contains information on magnesium and titanium.

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