Justin Ratcliffe, Chief Executive, Council for Aluminium in Building (CAB) reviews issues surrounding aluminium recycling and sustainability and highlights a number of projects undertaken by CAB and other leading International organisations who CAB partner with, including the International Aluminium Institute (IAI) and the European Aluminium Association (EAA)
Aluminium For Future Generations (AFFG)
The global nature of the aluminium value chain means that fostering sustainability within the aluminium industry and its products requires international collaboration. The key organisations involved in the work include the Council for Aluminium in Building (CAB), the European Aluminium Association (EAA) and the International Aluminium Institute (IAI). In order to manage environmental impacts, there is a need to measure and report them accurately. Hence the IAI produces an annual global sustainability report and five-yearly life cycle inventory report, detailing latest performance data. At the regional level, the EAA has produced its latest ‘Environmental Profile Report’:
http://www.alueurope.eu/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/EAA_Environmental_profile_report-May081.pdf which presents the development of robust European Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) datasets for the production of primary and recycled aluminium ingots and for the transformation of aluminium ingots into semi-finished products, i.e. sheet, foil and extruded products. Further development of global and European LCI data for aluminium, and their use in accessible and transparent Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) modelling is a priority for this sector.
Aluminium’s generic environmental profiles were updated in the BRE Green Guide online on 8 August 2012. For the first time since the introduction of the Green Guide, aluminium powder coated windows can now achieve the following ratings:
- ‘A+’ Rating (for all commercial windows < 0.9kg/m)
- ‘A’ Rating (for all commercial windows < 1.5kg/m)
- ‘A’ Rating (for all domestic windows < 1.08kg/m)
- ‘B’ Rating (for all domestic windows >1.08kg/m)
The aluminium industry, through the IAI in conjunction with leading Associations, including CAB, has established a number of sustainability objectives (including energy and greenhouse gas emissions reduction), summarised in the table below:
Aluminium sector existing sustainable development objectives and initiatives
||IAI Existing Objectives
|Energy used in rawmaterial production
||10% reduction inenergy use per tonneof alumina by 2020,from 2006
|| 8% reduction, 2006–2011
|Other impacts of rawmaterial
||Elimination ofperfluorocarbon (PFC)in the long term; 50%per tonne reduction
on 2006 baseline by
||25% reduction, 2006–201102013 Anode Effect Survey:(http://www.world-aluminium.org/media/filer_public/2014/08/08/2013_anode_effect_survey_report_2014.pdf )
||Increase theproportion of bauxitemining landrehabilitated annually
||Annual rehabilitation area of existing bauxite mining areas is equal to the average annual area being opened up. In this steady state environment, bauxite mining is ‘land area footprint neutral’ and sustainable. 4th Sustainable Bauxite Mining Report.The Aluminium Story: Bauxite & Alumina: http://bauxite.world-aluminium.org
|End of life impacts
||Report regularly onglobal recyclingperformance
||11 million tonnes recovered globally from used products in 2011.The Aluminium Story: Recycling http://recycling.world-aluminium.org
||Recycling of aluminiumcans to reach 75% by2015
||73% recycling rate reached globally by 2011:http://packaging.world-aluminium.orgThe Aluminium Story: Packaging: http://packaging.world-aluminium.org
Progress relating to the objectives is reported annually by the global industry, including China (which represents over 40% of aluminium production), and is disseminated widely.
Almost 1 billion tonnes of aluminium have been produced since 1888. Around 75% of all aluminium produced since then is still in productive use, as a result of high recycling rates (between 92 and 98% for architectural aluminium; see http://greenbuilding.world-aluminium.org and the long lifetime of aluminium products, particularly in the building and construction sector. Recycling aluminium requires only 5% of the energy needed to produce aluminium from bauxite, which means it has a high value as a recyclate. This high value should ensure that similarly high recycling rates are maintained in the future.
Durability and service life of windows
CAB has sponsored two case studies on ‘Aluminium and Durability’ by the Department of Architecture & Built Environment at Nottingham University in order to better understand and quantify aluminium's life expectancy in buildings. The work with the University also included sponsorship of the ‘Prototyping Architecture’ Exhibition at the Building Centre, London during Q1, 2013. CAB continues to highlight aluminium’s longevity; for example, over 200 windows installed 73 years ago in the New University Library at Oxford University http://www.c-a-b.org.uk/why-aluminium/aluminium-longevity
Responsible sourcing scheme for aluminium
The Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) launched in 2012 has been spearheaded by several industry players with the support of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). ASI’s first goal is to develop the ASI Standard to foster responsible resource management of aluminium through the entire value chain. The Standard will define principles and performance criteria in the area of governance, environmental and social practices. It will be applicable for all stages of aluminium production and transformation, specifically: bauxite mining, alumina refinery, primary aluminium production, semi fabrication (rolling, extrusion, forging, and foundry) as well as refining and remelting of recycled scrap. It will also include a chain of custody mechanism to allow a coherent and integrated linkage of information between the different stages of the value chain. It is forecast that the Standard will be developed by the end of 2014; see www.aluminium-stewardship.org
For further information on CAB and its activities go to www.c-a-b.org.uk or contact the office on 01453 828851.