Aluminum — and aluminum extrusion — is playing a major role in lessening the impact of growth and industrial development on our environment:
Through extensive, and resource friendly, recycling from production through end-of-life
- By delivering in-use benefits via reduced environmental impact of products in which extrusion is utilized
- By reducing emissions and other undesirable byproducts of the production process.
Aluminum production in North America is more sustainable today than at any time in history, according to a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) study released in late 2013 by The Aluminum Association (aluminum.org). The study examined the environmental impact of modern aluminum production and reviewed the 2010 production year. The LCA study incorporates data from 25 companies, representing 95 percent of primary metal production and the majority of the industry in the U.S. and Canada; data from extruders representing an estimated 60% of North American capacity is included in the LCA.
The reduction in energy use by primary aluminum producers over the past two decades has led to a steady decline in the industry's carbon footprint.
Energy needed to produce a single metric ton of aluminum has declined:
26 percent since 1995
- 11 percent since 2005
The industry's carbon footprint has dropped even more dramatically, declining:
37 percent since 1995
- 19 percent since 2005
The study was peer reviewed by a third-party expert to ensure conformance with International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards. It is believed to be one of the most robust LCA reports ever released by an industry trade group.
In 2014, The Aluminum Association released an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) for various aluminum products, including Extruded Aluminum produced in North America. The EPD was developed according to ISO 14025 and based on the LCA findings.
To access the EPD, visit www.aluminum.org/EPD
To learn more, visit www.aluminum.org/LCAReport.
AEC EPD in Development
AEC is currently developing an Environmental Product Declaration covering aluminum extrusion produced in the U.S. and Canada. Expected to be available later in 2016, this will be the most comprehensive assessment of extrusion’s environmental footprint. In addition to the input required to produce two EPDs – one for thermally improved extrusion and one for unimproved product – the data being collected will provide important information on recycled content as well as finishing mix and characteristics.
Did You Know?
- As an elemental metal, Aluminum is unique in that it can be recycled over and over without any degradation in physical properties
- Over 1 billion tons of primary aluminum has been produced since 1888: 75% of it is still in productive use!
- In total, recycling represents roughly 35% of global aluminum production
- Recycling aluminum requires only about 5% of the energy required for primary aluminum production.
- Each ton of aluminum recycled, rather than produced from ore, saves:
- 24 barrels of crude oil equivalents
- Over 15 tons of fresh or sea water
- More than 9 tons of CO2 equivalents
- Substituting aluminum for other materials has substantial in-use benefits, saving energy and reducing CO2 emissions.
- The emissions savings from increased aluminum usage in transportation is so great that the aluminum industry should become "greenhouse gas neutral" in the next decade, i.e., the global warming impact from aluminum production will be more than offset by the carbon dioxide reductions from its use in transportation.