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Our approach to aluminium recycling

Our approach to aluminium recycling

Constellium approach to aluminium recycling.
The life-cycle of aluminium.

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Constellium - recycling brochure - coverpage

Constellium’s publication about the life-cycle of aluminium

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Using recycled aluminium reduces the need for primary aluminium and therefore reduces waste, avoids resource depletion and reduces greenhouse gases across an aluminium product’s life-cycle. In the aluminium industry there are two key sources of recycled material:

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    end-of-life scrap metal, which is material that has already been used and disposed of; and
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    process scrap metal, produced during the manufacturing process.

From an environmental point of view, only end-of-life scrap can be associated with a lower environmental footprint, because its impacts have already been taken into account during its initial life. Of course, process scrap is always recycled because we acknowledge our responsibility to retain it in the manufacturing loop.

The misleading concept of recycled content

Some players in the industry use ‘recycled content’ as a metric, which measures the amount of recycled aluminium in products as an indication of how environmentally friendly that product is. For us, this metric is misleading because:

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    it fails to distinguish between end-of-life and other scrap content. This can encourage inefficiencies in production because it rewards wasteful processes that produce more scrap; and
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    there is only a limited amount of recycled aluminium available globally. Logically, this means that increasing recycled material on one product line will remove it from others, thus offering no actual benefit for the environment. 

Therefore, having products with higher than average amounts of ‘recycled content’ does not make any difference to the overall impact of the aluminium industry. We have continued to engage in industry initiatives to promote better handling of recycling and recycling metrics, notably in relation with Metal Packaging Europe and European Aluminium initiatives.

Increased recycled content

Increasing recycled content offers no actual environmental benefit

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Last update 08 June 2016 Back to top