Brussels-based European Aluminium (EA) has launched a ten-year plan to achieve full circularity in its aluminium industry, by increasing recycling rates and reducing dependence on imports of primary and secondary aluminium.
Annually, the EU exports 1mn mt of aluminium scrap outside of Europe, mainly to Asia. Around 2.6mn mt of post-consumer aluminium scrap is utilised among EU’s member countries and 1.6mn mt is currently neither used nor exported but lost during collection and recovery. Aluminium from end-of-life cars is also lost when they are exported legally or illegally, along with scrap lost to the landfills. EA recommended increasing recycling rates in Europe by reducing exports as well as increasing investment in re-smelting and refining capacity and more efficient sorting techniques as the main challenge faced by the industry is to separate wrought and cast alloy aluminium scrap.
Recycled aluminium constitutes 36pc of aluminium supply in Europe, according to data accumulated by EA, Europe’s aluminium industry association. Of this 20pc is post-consumer scrap and 16pc is pre-consumer scrap. EA expects 50pc of the EU demand for aluminium to be met by the secondary sector by 2050.
The association also expects Europe’s current consumption of 13.5mn mt to increase to 16mn mt in 2030 and 19mn mt in 2050, a 40pc growth, on increased demand from the automotive, construction and packaging industries. Basis this consumption forecast, EA expects the amount of post-consumer aluminium available for recycling to more than double from an annual 3.6mn mt in 2019 to 6.6mn mt by 2030, subsequently reaching 8.6mn mt by 2050.
EA’s plan to make its domestic aluminium industry self-sufficient was also driven by the current COVID-19 situation. The association targets to reduce companies’ exposure to supply insecurities from dependence on imports.