The Aluminum Extrusion Industry Impact On The Environment
The aluminum extrusion industry is playing an important role in lessening negative impacts of growth and industrial development on our environment:
- Via wide scale operations that convert scrap generated through the manufacturing process and at end-of-product-life into high quality raw material for subsequent operations
- Through extensive, and resource conserving, use of feed stock with high levels of recycled content
- By delivering in-use benefits reducing the environmental impact of the products in which extrusions are utilized
- Via continuous improvement of the varied production processes employed to create extruded aluminum components
As an elemental material, aluminum’s fundamental properties do not change with mechanical processing. Thus, aluminum can be recycled time and time again with no degradation of properties. This infinite recyclability, combined with aluminum’s light weight, high strength-to-weight ratio, corrosion resistance and formability, make aluminum extrusions an important element in many sustainable solutions. Whether by helping to light-weight autos to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions, by reducing the energy requirements of commercial buildings, or facilitating installation of solar energy farms, aluminum extrusions both enhance sustainability and reflect sustainable practices.
To learn more about extrusions’ contribution to sustainability, review:
- Aluminum Extrusion EPDs – recently released (October 2016) Life Cycle Analysis and Environmental Product Declarations covering aluminum extrusion produced in the U.S. and Canada
- In-use Benefits – an overview of the contributions that extrusion is making to more efficient autos and buildings
- The Role of AEC and its Members – how the Council and its members contribute to sustainability across aluminum's life cycle
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 8% 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.