The race is on for recycled aluminium, says AEROBAL

Over the last decade, the global aluminium aerosol can industry has achieved an average growth rate of around 3.5%.

According to the International Organisation of Aluminium Aerosol Container Manufacturers (AEROBAL), this ‘remarkable’ growth is due to the convincing functional, consumer-oriented, and environmental performance of aluminium aerosols. In other ‘voluminous’ end-use markets such as the automotive and construction industry, aluminium has been in increasingly high demand, said the organisation.

For a couple of years, the demand for aluminium products with recycled metal content has continually increased leading to a situation where high demand meets limited availability of recycled material because the entire aluminium market is growing and the metal is often bound in the products for decades, in cars and buildings, for example, before it is available for recycling. Today, only around 30% of the global demand for aluminium can be met by recycled material.

Whether pre- or post-consumer scrap, recycled aluminium is in short supply in all end-use markets, said AEROBAL, not to mention high-purity scrap, which can live up to the demanding requirements of aluminium aerosol can production.

“Nevertheless, the aluminium aerosol can industry has faced the music and taken up this challenge,” said AEROBAL president Leopold Werdich.

“Today, thanks to the innovative drive and constructive cooperation of the supply chain partners, new alloys do not only achieve significantly lighter cans, but they can also contain a defined quantity of recycled aluminium, which improves the environmental performance of the finished can without impairing the functionality and safety of the can.”

Gregor Spengler, AEROBAL secretary-general, added: “A very crucial thing in this context is a transparent documentation of the recycled material flows in the value chain which demonstrates what kind of recycled material found its way into the can

“Any greenwashing would harm the aluminium aerosol can industry and their customers and put the excellent reputation of aluminium at risk.”

So, customers can choose from different recycled material options, as long as the desired recycled material in the required specification is available. But even if there is not enough recycled aluminium available for everyone, which will probably be the case in the current framework conditions, aluminium be it primary or recycled, is a permanent material that can be almost endlessly recycled without any loss in quality. This positively differentiates it from many other packaging materials, said AEROBAL.

What matters, in the end, is closing the material loop so that no aluminium gets lost on the way. In this context, it helps that aluminium is the packaging material with the highest scrap value, offering a ‘convincing incentive’ to properly collect and recycle it.

Additionally, increasingly sophisticated collection and sorting technologies in the packaging waste management systems globally also contribute to increasing the quantity and quality of the recycled materials.

Efficiently closing the material loop leads to optimal resource efficiency and sustainability for the benefit and wellbeing of future generations.

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