Efficient use of our Earth’s resources

A sustainable approach to resources means using them more efficiently and also conserving non-renewable resources for future generations. The conservation of resources in the aluminium industry starts with closed internal production loops, in other words in those locations where process scrap as well as operating and auxiliary materials are recycled, and extends through to the processing of aluminium-containing residues.

Material savings with aluminium packaging

Whether in transport and transportation, packaging, or building and construction, the continual reduction in the amount of material used for a product without any reduction in its functionality represents another contribution to the conservation of resources. For example, a beverage can requires 40 per cent less aluminium today than it did in 1980. Similar examples can be cited for other product segments, such as engine blocks and aluminium roofs. A simple formula applies: less material means that less energy and less raw materials are used in the manufacture and use of a product.

Continuous reduction in the energy required

The aluminium industry has successfully reduced energy consumption in its production processes. Primary aluminium production in particular is a good example of how the aluminium industry harmonises its economic and ecological objectives. In 1950, 21 kilowatt-hours of electricity were needed to produce a kilogram of aluminium but today the average figure in more modern plants is only 13 kilowatt-hours thanks to improved process engineering. The industry utilises every opportunity to reduce energy consumption still further.

A modern industry cannot afford to stand still in the other stages of production either. That is why the energy consumption to produce aluminium semi-finished products or foil is also continually being evaluated. Here, continuous improvement means a continuous reduction in the energy required.

Reduction of emissions and waste

For environmentally friendly development it is also necessary to reduce any pollutant discharges from production processes that can endanger human health and the ability of the natural environment to adapt. In this respect, the optimisation of production processes and the installation of pollution control equipment in Germany comply with the highest standards worldwide. The aluminium industry’s plant-specific environmental protection is exemplary.

Measures to reduce pollution

These measures help improve the efficiency of the aluminium industry, reduce the demands made on the environment and contribute to sustainable development.

Climate protection

Efficient utilisation of energy

A district heating project at the world’s largest aluminium rolling mill, Alunorf, in North Rhine-Westphalia is a good example of the efficient utilisation of energy. The waste heat from the waste-gas cleaning system on 13 melting furnaces is used as heating by 6,500 people on a new housing estate a few kilometres away. It replaces up to 3.9 million cubic metres of natural gas and thus avoids about 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere every year.


Interesting fact

GDA library

Books and articles of relevance to aluminium have been collected since the 1930s. The GDA library is open to the public and besides literature on aluminium it also contains information on magnesium and titanium. The library's archives contain one of the most extensive collections of information on aluminium.


Environmental Management

Responsibility for the environment

Bauxite mining areas are rehabilitated systematically by the aluminium industry. Some 70 per cent of the area is reforested, 20 per cent is used for forestry or agricultural purposes and ten per cent is developed for residential, recreational and industrial areas.