Aluminium at work

Solutions for a Sustainable Society

Thanks to its unique properties and infinite recyclability, aluminium plays a fundamental role in the transition to a competitive, circular and low-carbon society. Scroll down to discover our policy work and other activities to address key challenges in three areas: circular economy (recycling & packaging), mobility and building & materials.


Circular Economy

Making the Circular Economy happen

The EU’s circular package economy aims to set clear targets for reducing waste and establishing an ambitious and credible long-term approach for waste management and recycling. The legislative package included revisions of the waste directives - Waste Framework, Packaging and packaging waste, Landfill, ELV (‘End of Life Vehicles’) and WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) - and an Action Plan.
European Aluminium engaged policy makers, seeking to achieve a number of milestones that would help the industry improve the landscape for European waste management. These would allow greater levels of aluminium recycling in Europe, including a level playing field for exported waste aluminium which will allow the industry to accelerate the transition from a linear to a true circular economy and to scale it up beyond Europe.

Read our position paper on the circular economy here.


Recycling and the circular economy

To close the loop and ensure quality recycling, all aluminium scrap exported out of Europe should comply with equivalent Environment Health and Safety (EHS) standards.

Our request for equivalent standards has found its way into the final proposal of the Waste and Packaging Waste Directives. However, EU policy makers only agreed to apply ‘broadly equivalent’ conditions for exported waste without specifying the standards to be applied.

Another priority of aluminium industry was to endorse a clause revising the definition of re-use and recycling targets for construction and demolition waste (C&DW) by 2025 and 2030. Based on the outcome of the ‘Trilogue’ discussions, where the European Parliament, Council and the Commission reached an agreement, the Commission has been requested to consider a reuse and recycling target for C&DW within the required timeframe.

Read our proposal on C&DW recycling targets for 2025 and 2030 here.


Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive

The EU proposed to extend exemption 6b for lead in aluminium used in electrical and electronic equipment after European Aluminium requested the extension of the current exemption “Lead as an alloying element in aluminium containing up to 0.4% lead by weight”. In 2017, following extensive preparatory work over a number of years, the European Commission finally agreed on the wording of the exemption and published the final draft of the new exemption 6b. The five-year exemption proposed for aluminium was required for solid technical and economic reasons and the exemption was based on evidence provided by the industry and coordinated by European Aluminium.


International Aluminium Recycling Congress 2017

The 14th International Aluminium Recycling Congress on 7 - 8 February in Manchester attracted 150 delegates from across Europe. The theme of the event was ‘Recycling at its Best: The Circular Economy Opportunity’. Keynote speakers included Julie Girling MEP and DG Growth Director Gwenole Cozigou.

During the Congress, participants discussed aluminium recycling and circular economy, market trends, innovative technologies and applications. In addition, they had the opportunity to visit the Hydro Aluminium Deeside Ltd plant in Wrexham. The event strengthened our engagement with media bringing increased coverage for the event.

Our International Aluminium Recycling Congress was inaugurated in 1990 and is held every two years. It is now one of the leading events in the field of aluminium recycling.
The Congress covers a range of current and relevant topics including market trends, technology and applications as well as the latest political developments. It brings experts from across the globe convene to discuss all aspects of aluminium recycling. The Congress also provides an excellent platform for exchanging views and networking with representatives from the entire aluminium chain.

We look forward to seeing you at our 15th edition, which will take place in early 2019.

The Congress achieves the right balance of delegate level, presentation detail/topics; and detailed debate on relevant issues affect our industry

Alan Peel, ALTEK

This event is a good opportunity to network with your business partners and to stay updated regarding new technologies and perspectives in the industry

Markus Schober, Hammerer Aluminium Industries.

14th International Aluminium Recycling Congress

 - Interview with Gwenole Cozigou


Outcome of the EU negotiations about Circular Economy Package positive for packaging

Following prolonged discussions, the three major EU institutions - Parliament, Council and Commission - reached a compromise on the amended proposals to the Waste Framework Directive and the Packaging & Packaging Waste Directive. These were the two ‘cornerstones’ of the Circular Economy Package proposed by the European Commission in 2015.

European Aluminium advocated strongly in favour of a separate aluminium packaging recycling target of 75% by the year 2025 which takes into account all available collection and separation options. Although the overall outcome is positive, we believe that the new recycling targets could have been more ambitious. In particular, the separate 50 per cent for 2025 and 60 per cent for 2030 targets for aluminium packaging should have been closer to those agreed for the other competing materials. In addition, the confusing derogation clause may undermine the level playing field between the Member States.

We are pleased that, in future, the level of recycling will now be calculated after the final sorting phase and that aluminium recovered from incinerator ‘bottom ash’ is now taken into account as part of the recycling target. The European Aluminium video on bottom ash, shown to numerous Members of European Parliament, made a strong contribution to the acceptance of this important but additional recovery option. We were also successful in gaining acceptance for the concept of ‘multiple recycling’, which acknowledges the characteristic of aluminium as a permanent material that can be endlessly recycled without loss of its inherent properties, and is now promoted on a equal foot as multiple reuse.


Packaging Group presents Roadmap towards 75 per cent aluminium packaging recycling in 2025

Despite the outcome of the circular economy package setting a recycling target for aluminium packaging of 50 per cent for 2025 and 60 per cent for 2030, European Aluminium’s Packaging Group has decided to continue implementing its voluntary roadmap towards 75 per cent recycling in 2025 for all aluminium packaging. A Task Force, made up of experts on aluminium extended-producer responsibility, agreed on a list of packaging items that should be collected separately by the national ‘green dot’ systems, via their yellow or blue bags and bins (see picture below). The group presented an overview to Pro Europe, on the two European alliances of ‘green dot’ systems, at a meeting hosted by our Italian colleagues. The meeting also paid an interesting visit to INTALS, one of Europe’s largest aluminium (packaging) scrap remelters.


Beverage can recycling is already at 73 per cent

We are pleased to report that the latest aluminium beverage can recycling rates for Europe (EU 28 + EFTA countries) have reached a new record level of 73 per cent. This means that, every second across Europe 1,000 cans are being collected and sorted for recycling.

You can read our press release here.


Annual Packaging Group Seminar in Rotterdam

Our Annual Packaging Group Seminar set a new attendance record in 2017, attracting registrations from more than eighty experts.

Organised in cooperation with RAVN, the Dutch aluminium packaging and recycling organisation, the event saw keynote speakers and round table participants shed fresh light on a variety of topics. These included the Circular Economy Package and its concrete implementation and the promotion of aluminium packaging in the Netherlands, with the final session of the seminar dedicated to innovative recycling technologies.

Attendees were offered the opportunity of a field trip to visit ‘BlueCity’, a cluster of start-ups active in the local Circular Economy as well as a SUEZ household and packaging waste sorting plant in the Port of Rotterdam.

Read the press release issued on event.


Every Can Counts now active in 14 countries

The Every Can Counts initiative grew again in 2017, adding new activities in Belgium and Poland.

During the summer, this cross-European can recycling awareness programme finally came to Belgium. It was present at the arrival of the Tour de France in Liège (2 July) and at Libramont for Europe’s largest European agricultural fair (28-31 July). The Every Can Counts Benelux team is already looking to further develop the programme by organising activities in both Flanders region and the Netherlands and by cooperating with big brands in 2018.

You can find out more by reading the press release, watching the video or by reading our special packaging StoryTime newsletter.

In Poland, Every Can Counts is implemented by the Recal Foundation, which has been promoting aluminium packaging recycling since 1995. Many existing activities, especially at major sports events, have been rebranded under the Every Can Counts banner, while new actions were developed in parallel.

Visit the website.


Bringing lightweighting to Brussels

An important piece of our campaign for lightweight mobility was to make the concept of lightweighting accessible and understandable for people in Brussels.

Our Spring event provided the perfect platform for this. Our members contributed a fantastic exhibition of aluminium components, while a large crowd turned out to debate the way that lightweighting, making vehicles less heavy using lightweight materials such as aluminium, can contribute to low-carbon mobility and to share their view of the future of mobility. The event was awarded with a European Association Award 2018 for "Best Networking Event". 

For more information on how aluminium can help the EU meet its CO2 emissions reduction targets for mobility, please read our article in the Parliament Magazine and discover our StoryTime newsletter on mobility.

Communication campaign on lightweight mobility

All cars can benefit from lightweighting, and it should play a major role for a low carbon mobility in the future. As well as making vehicles more efficient, lightweighting offers many other positive impacts on mobility, spanning increased safety to lower pollution and lower fuel consumption. We want lightweighting to be one of the obvious aspects that should be taken into account when discussing how to achieve future clean mobility and new fuel efficiency targets for vehicles. Lightweighting is logical and beneficial to all type of vehicles, be they combustion driven, hybrid or fully electric.

The European Commission’s revised proposal on CO2 standards from cars and vans

In November, the European Commission presented its proposal for post-2020 CO2 standards for cars and vans. The proposal seeks to reduce emissions by 15 per cent between 2021 and 2025 and by 30 per cent between 2021 and 2030. Unfortunately, the Commission missed its opportunity to make the regulation more cost effective for manufacturers by abandoning vehicle mass as the measure for setting specific targets for individual manufacturer.

Had the Commission instead proposed using the ‘footprint’ of the vehicle as a measure - as is the case in the US - making cars lighter would become a more cost-effective way of reducing CO2 emissions. Under the current proposal, a proportion of the manufacturer’s investment in lightweighting would be erased by the regulation. With the proposal about to be discussed in the European Parliament and by the Member States, we will continue to argue for a correction to this approach, to make it technology neutral and more efficient from an environmental and consumers point of view.

See our article in EurActiv to read more on how the EU can unlock the potential of lightweighting.

Buildings & Materials

Standards on aluminium, its alloys and special applications

Standards permit a constructive dialogue between suppliers, customers and authorities. They provide a common language for certifying performance, which assists in drafting contracts and in supporting conformity with legislation. By being involved in the EU standardization processes we define the markets of tomorrow and keep European leadership on the latest developments. 

In 2017, the new EN 16914:2017 standard was published. This deals with technical delivery conditions for hot-rolled armour plates in weldable aluminium alloy; EN 515:2017, which deals with temper designations of wrought products and EN 12020-2:2016+C1:2017, which deals with tolerances on dimensions and form for extruded precision profiles in alloys EN AW-6060 and EN AW-6063.

A comprehensive catalogue of the more than 120 standards for aluminium, its alloys and its various product forms can be found here. It also highlights recent publications and ongoing works.

For further information on standards for transport, structural applications or industrial emissions, please consult our standards web page.

Pictured: Aluminium ingots

Supporting the energy performance of buildings

European Aluminium became part of a coalition for defending the ‘Energy Efficiency First’ principle in the ongoing revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). Minimising the energy demand of buildings should remain the priority of the EPBD, even where the energy supply for the building derives from renewable sources.

Together with other window industry stakeholders, European Aluminium continued to promote the ‘energy balance’ for assessing the thermal performance of windows. This proposes extending the calculation of insulation properties to include solar heat gains and airtightness. Currently, insulation properties are often the sole characteristic under consideration.

European Aluminium is also involved in several real-scale measurement campaigns for demonstrating the thermal performance of aluminium ventilated claddings. Aluminium is part of three of these - in Anglet (F), Burgos (E) and Gdansk (PL) - in the context of the EU-funded E2VENT project.

Promoting sustainable building products

European Aluminium supports and promotes greater transparency in end-of-life performance of building products. We contributed to the 2017 European Commission Level(s) Study on resource-efficient building indicators, which now embraces the full product lifecycle.

European Aluminium is also contributing to the amendments to standard EN 15804, which regulates environmental products declarations (EPDs) for building products. The objective is to gain full recognition of end-of-life recycling benefits, a key to circular economy. In line with this standard, and as an ‘EPD Programme Operator’, European Aluminium produced 19 additional EPDs, bringing the total tof 34. All of these are available here.

Pictured: Level(s), a voluntary reporting framework that has a broad potential for use by building sector professionals across the EU. European Aluminium was a contributing stakeholder.


Securing compliance with legal building requirements

The Construction Products Regulation sets out harmonised rules for declaring performance and CE marking. European Aluminium wishes to see simplified procedures and improved technical specifications that produce a fair balance between declared performance reliability and compliance costs.

The table below provides an overview of the work ongoing at European level.

External doors and windows EN 14351 - 1 under revision Improve it based on aluminium industry's experience
Internal pedestrian doors New EN 14351 - 2 to be published soon Will remove trade barriers across the EU
External claddings European Assessment Document in preparation CE-marking for cladding kits to become possible
Roofing and cladding sheets EN 507 & EN 508 - 2 to be published soon Extension to roofing and anodising

In addition, European Aluminium is contributing to the development of a European Commission-led approach for assessing the fire performance of facades.European Aluminium provides guidance to stakeholders requesting CE marking of aluminium building products. We also monitor international standards in order to avoid conflicts with European standards for windows, doors and curtain walls.

Pictured: Geometric aluminium cladding on a modern building

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