Recycled aluminum hits new record high

A record 20 million tonnes of post-consumer scrap aluminum was recycled in 2019. This avoids 300 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions as the recycled metal reduces demand for primary aluminum.

This new high, published in the latest International Aluminium Institute (IAI) Material Flow Model update, represents nearly 60% of total scrap intake as post-consumer continues to outstrip pre-consumer scrap levels.

The post-consumer scrap intake came from three main sources – packaging, vehicles and building and construction.

“Aluminum demand is expected to increase by about 80% in 2050, and the IAI forecasts that recycled aluminum could meet half of that demand,” said Marlen Bertram, IAI’s director – scenarios and forecasts.

“With ambitious collection targets for used beverage cans and improved recycling technologies for foil, this rate could even be higher. Historical figures indicate that measures to increase the amount of post-consumer aluminum products being put back into production continue to be successful.”.

70 years of data

The IAI can now look back at nearly 70 years of historical data from mining to product, recycling and trade for nine regions and globally. The 2021 update includes complete data for 2019 as well as partial data for 2020.

Aluminum is one of the most recyclable materials on the planet and the IAI is campaigning to ensure end-of-life products are returned into the aluminum recycling loop given the economic and environmental value of the metal in the global economy.

The IAI update includes two key industry scenarios on all aspects of aluminum production and demand up to 2050. This takes into account the impact of Covid-19 and plays a key data source for IAI’s recently launched Aluminium Sector Greenhouse Gas Pathways to 2050 report.

The annual update provides a comprehensive review of the aluminum industry covering primary production, alumina production, inventories, regional semis shipments and trade of bauxite, alumina, aluminum, semis, final products and scrap.