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Aluminium at work

Solutions for a Sustainable Society

Thanks to its unique properties and infinite recyclability, aluminium is playing a fundamental role in the transition to a competitive, circular and low-carbon society. Here, you can discover our policy work on strategic applications for aluminium, including building and construction, mobility and packaging as well as our activities on recycling and standards.

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DIGITAL ACTIVITY REPORT 2019 - 2020
Aluminium and its alloys

Supporting technical dialogue with customers

Standards make dialogue between suppliers, customers and authorities possible. They provide a common language for certifying performance and for securing conformity with legislation.

To help customers to order aluminium products in accordance with European Standards, European Aluminium published an updated guidance document.

Alongside it, a comprehensive catalogue providing explanations of more than 120 standards - for aluminium, its alloys and its various product forms - was revised in 2019 and can be found here. It also highlights recently published standards and those undergoing revision processes.

In 2019, advances were made on the revision of several European standards dealing with aluminium and its alloys, leading to the following publications:

  • EN 14726:2019 ‘Determination of the chemical composition of aluminium and aluminium alloys by spark optical emission spectrometry’ with a new scope and thoroughly revised
  • EN 573-3:2019 ‘Aluminium and aluminium alloys - Chemical composition and form of wrought products - Part 3: Chemical composition and form of products’ with the addition of a reference to several new alloys

European Aluminium limited the interference of Notified Bodies for the certification of aluminium structural components under EN 1090-1. Our official note can be found here.

European Aluminium worked to ensure that several revision requests at international level avoided conflicting with European ones. These are ISO 115, on unalloyed ingots for remelting, ISO 2107 on temper designations that compete with EN 515 and ISO 6362 & 6363, relevant for extruded and cold-drawn products that compete with EN 755 & 754 respectively.

European Aluminium expressed its concerns, together with other metals associations, regarding an ongoing ISO project focused on ‘measurement uncertainty,’ which may impact the release of products and depreciate their performance.

For further information on standards, please consult our standards web page.

Building

Building

The ’Energy Balance’ in assessing window performance

European Aluminium, and other window industry stakeholders, continue to actively promote the ‘energy balance' methodology for calculating the thermal performance of windows. It incorporates data on ‘solar heat gains’ and ‘airtightness’ into the calculation, in addition to ‘insulation properties’ that are too often the sole characteristics under consideration.

Thanks to this advocacy, the ‘energy balance’ methodology is now referred to in Commission recommendation EU 2019/1019 on building modernisation. 

Recycling and end-of-life benefits

European Aluminium advocates for greater recognition of the residual end-of-life value and performance of building products. It promotes transparent reporting to support an increase in the collection and recycling of aluminium building products at the end of their life.

Following the revision of the Waste Framework Directive in 2018, European Aluminium contributed to the updated ‘Metals for Buildings’ position calling for a re-use & recycling target to be set for construction and demolition waste flow.

We published a new fact sheet entitled ‘Aluminium windows contribute to the circular economy’.

Under the auspices of the European Committee for Standardisation’s (CEN) technical committee for ‘sustainability of construction works’, European Aluminium was also involved in the amendment of standard EN 15804, which regulates Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for building products.  As part of this revision process, end-of-life recycling benefits, which are key to achieving a circular economy, gained full recognition.

As an ‘EPD Programme Operator’, European Aluminium produced additional EPDs for specific aluminium building products in line with EN 15804, bringing the total to 46. All of these are available here. From 2020 onwards, European Aluminium EPDs will be generated by updated software and will also be included in the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community’s database, Ökobaudat, the only recognised source of data for assessing the environmental performance of buildings in Germany.

By promoting the use of EPDs, European Aluminium has contributed to the ongoing discussion on how to implement the ‘sustainable use of natural resources’ requirement of the EU Construction Products Regulation.

European Aluminium and the International Aluminium Institute also started monitoring standards developed by the ISO/TC 59/SC 17 ‘Sustainability in buildings and civil engineering works’ committee globally.

Securing compliance with legal building requirements

The Construction Products Regulation (CPR) sets out harmonised rules for declaring performance and CE marking of construction products, thereby supporting the EU single market. European Aluminium actively participated in consultations and impact assessments that will be the basis for the upcoming review of the Regulation.

In these fora, our team advocated for the development of simplified procedures and improved technical specifications to achieve a fair balance between the need for highly reliable tests and the associated costs. European Aluminium stressed the need to maintain fenestration products under the framework of the CPR, and to shorten the delays in publishing related standards in the European Official Journal. 

Regarding technical specifications, the table below highlights some 2019 achievements.

Internal pedestrian doors

EN 14351-2:2018 published

Allowing assessment and verification of performance, but not CE-marking yet

Infill supports for curtain walling

EN 17146:2018 published

Trade barrier removed

External wall cladding kits

European Assessment Document 090062-00-0404 published

CE marking now possible

Balustrades & railing kits

AVCP* system 4 obtained for non-structural products

Least onerous system to be applied by manufacturers

Roofing and cladding sheets

EN 507:2019 &  EN 508-2:2019 published

Extension to cladding and anodising

* Assessment and Verification of Constancy of Performance

European Aluminium provides guidance for manufacturers requesting CE marking of aluminium building products and is involved in developing the future European Commission Standardisation Request on windows, doors and curtain walls. We also monitor international fenestration standards, to avoid conflicts with European ones.

In addition, European Aluminium is contributing to developing a European Commission-led approach to assessing the fire performance of facades.

European Aluminium also demonstrated that aluminium fenestration products manufactured by its member companies do not release dangerous substances into indoor air.

Pictured: Black Swan, Strasbourg, France | © Elisabeth Leblanc | ALUCOBOND® A2 special colour Blue & Red | AAD Architecture Anne Démians | Bluntzer SNC®

 

Mobility

Mobility

The Aluminium Content in Cars study – an update

This year, an update of the Aluminium Content in Cars study was finalised. The study, performed by DuckerFrontier, in close collaboration with the members of the Automotive & Transport market group, looked at more than 200 car models covering 95 percent of European production and produced detailed data on the type and volume of aluminium in more than 35 different car components. 

The study estimates that the average aluminium content of cars produced in Europea reached nearly 180 kg in 2019, a 20 percent increase since 2016. The study also forecasts the average aluminium content of cars to increase to almost 200 kg per vehicle by 2025, in line with the most positive market predictions made in 2016. 

Uninterrupted growth in aluminium content and the positive market outlook can largely be attributed to aluminium’s roles in “lightweighting” cars and enabling electromobility. Battery boxes, electric motor housings, but also body closures and body structures, are highlighted in the study as key applications expected to benefit from the increased use of aluminium in the future. 

 

Development of new methodology for Life Cycle Assessment of cars

In 2018, policy makers agreed on new CO2 emission reduction targets for new cars and vans manufactured from 2025 and 2030 onwards; a 15 percent reduction is targetted by 2025 and 37.5 percent by 2030. They also increased sales targets for Zero or Low Emission Vehicles (ZLEV) to 15 percent by 2025 and 35 percent by 2030. 

As a part of this agreement, the European Commission was asked to develop a methodology for conducting Life Cycle Assessments of vehicles, and to assess whether future COstandards could be linked to full vehicle life cycle emissions rather than the tailpipe emissions when a car is in use. The European Commission is expected to respond by 2023 at the latest. 

As a first step, the European Commission has started to develop a methodology to assess the environmental impacts of conventional and alternatively fuelled vehicles through Life Cycle Assessment. The study, commissioned by the European Commission’s DG CLIMA, is expected to be concluded in the first half of 2020.

European Aluminium contributes to this project’s ongoing work and monitors all developments concerning the application of Life Cycle Assessment to vehicles.

Mobility

Making a vehicle lighter and more recyclable are compatible goals

Making a vehicle lighter and more recyclable are mutually compatible goals. Aluminium can contribute both to “lightweighting” vehicles and their high-value recyclability at the end of life.

The End of Life Vehicles (ELVs) of today - on average, cars of around 14 years old - are approximately 4-6 percent aluminium. This figure can rise to around 10 percent for premium cars treated today. In the future, the level of aluminium in ELVs is expected to grow; cars currently being produced have an aluminium content of 7-20 percent.

Today - in modern plants - 95 percent of the aluminium in an ELV is successfully and profitably reused or recycled into new products, substituting the need for primary aluminium production. Recycling aluminium reduces energy consumption by 95 percent compared to producing primary aluminium, creating a significant environmental benefit.

Recycling aluminium from ELVs should be guaranteed and improved in the future. With this objective in mind, we are contributing to the European Commission’s review of Directive 2000/53/EC on end-of life vehicles (the "ELV Directive") that is expected to take place during the whole of 2020.

Packaging

Packaging

Implementation of the new EU aluminium packaging recycling targets

After the approval last year of the amended ‘Waste Framework’ and the ‘Packaging & Packaging Waste’ Directives, the European Commission began the implementation of new and more ambitious recycling targets. At least 50 percent of aluminium packaging needs to be recycled in 2025 and 60 percent in 2030, although the EU Member States have the discretion to set higher targets.

European Aluminium representatives led intensive discussions with the different institutions of the EU to further clarify the new EU rules concerning the calculation and measurement of the ‘real’ recycling targets. In April, the European Commission’s implementation act introduced a last-minute provision for minority materials in composite packaging. This may have a serious impact on small foil items such as pet food containers or the reporting of very thin layers of aluminium foil in multi-material packaging solutions. European Aluminium and EAFA will continue their intensive discussions with the European Commission to mitigate the impact of these measures.

Another issue that must be clarified is the so-called material ‘loss rates’ during the collection and sorting process. Several Member States are trying to weaken the impact of these losses, which would not necessarily be in the interest of the aluminium industry.

To prepare for 2020, the European Aluminium Packaging Group has teamed up with our Recycling Division to assess how aluminium remelting and refining companies will be impacted by the new rules, concerning ‘real’ recycling targets. A first survey has been carried out among members of the Packaging Group, and this will be followed by a larger survey of recycling companies dealing with aluminium packaging waste and aluminium recovered from incinerator bottom ash.

Essential requirements and eco-modulated fees for packaging

European Aluminium also participated in several stakeholder meetings with the European Commission and the consultants from EUNOMIA. During this consultation, we highlighted aluminium’s ability to be recycled multiple times without losing its unique characteristics and the importance of recognising that ‘permanent materials’ - such as aluminium, steel and glass - are more eco-friendly. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) organisations are about to review their ‘green dot’ tariffs and several organisations have already introduced significantly higher fees for materials and packaging solutions which are more difficult to sort and recycle or cannot be recycled at all.

Extended study proves once again the profitability of aluminium packaging sorting

We began communicating the very positive results of the first HTP Consultancy study into ‘The Optimal Sorting Plant’ to national EPR organisations involved in the collection and sorting of aluminium and other types of packaging waste. We also commissioned an extension of the study for small sorting centres and its conclusion is obvious: it pays for small packaging waste sorting centres to invest in additional and innovative sorting equipment. This reinforces our other initiative with the Belgian AREME platform, which promotes collection via ‘blue bags’ of both fully recyclable containers like beverage cans and food containers, and also small aluminium items such as wrapping foil, portion packs for cheese and butter and coffee capsules.

Aluminium beverage can recycling at a record level of 75%

In September 2019 we published our latest European recycling results of aluminium beverage cans, indicating a new record level of 74.5% for all cans consumed in the European
Union and EFTA countries. This gives us sufficient confidence that we can meet the objective of our joint roadmap with can makers by recycling 100% of cans by 2030.
Although the impact of the new measurement rules is not yet entirely clear, we do not think that the new European calculation method will significantly impact the final recycling rates for aluminium beverage cans. We estimate that for all aluminium packaging we have reached a recycling rate of about 55%.

Deposit Return Systems can be helpful under certain conditions

Following the adoption of the EU Directive on Single Use Plastics, European Aluminium has updated its position on Deposit Return Systems (DRS). The EU recommendation to use deposit return systems for collecting polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles also works for aluminium beverage cans, but there must be a level playing field between drink containers participating in a deposit fee system.

Representatives of the European Aluminium Packaging Group have intervened in several national and regional proposals for DRS to stress the need for equal deposit fees for the same-sized containers and to avoid cross-subsidies between highly valuable items such as aluminium cans and packaging items with a lower value.

European Aluminium continues to stress that Member States must carry on investing in the collection and sorting of the other packaging waste fractions, using innovative technologies such as Eddy Current and inductive sensor-based sorters for aluminium.

The European Aluminium Packaging Group and can manufacturers agreed on a clarification note on how to correctly communicate the recycled aluminium content figure for beverage cans. We recognise that this is an important marketing figure. However, European Aluminium is clear that reporting the recycled aluminium content figure of one product or another is of limited environmental significance. It is more important for all stakeholders to call for high end-of-life sorting, collection and recycling rates of aluminium scrap. This stimulates the already high collection rates for recycling of used aluminium products and reduces demand for electricity intensive primary aluminium production.

Every Can Counts turned ten in 2019!

Rolled out in 2009 as an industry-driven pilot project in the UK, the unique pan-European can recycling awareness initiative celebrated its tenth birthday in 2019.

The initiative continued to grow its presence in Europe by establishing a new national satellite organisation, “Ogni Lattina Vale,” in Italy which is managed by CiAl, the Italian Consortium for Aluminium Packaging Recycling. This was launched at the Moto GP in San Marino where Red Bull distributed 33,000 cans, most of which were collected for recycling by green-riders equipped with specific can-collection backpacks. Today Every Can Counts (ECC) is established in 15 and present in 19 countries.

During 2019 ECC continued to increase its visibility by participating in large events and engaging with media, brand owners and the wider public across Europe.

At the official Fan Park of Le Tour de France in Brussels (Belgium) Albi and Nîmes (France), ECC created a Pixelcan wall depicting Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Indurain. The huge can wall containing more than 2,000 used cans was built by the public and was reported on by local and national broadcast media. It was inaugurated in Brussels by the Mayor, Philippe Close, Bernard Hinault, former French champion, and Christian Prudhomme, the President of Le Tour. All in all, ECC participated in many iconic events, fairs and festivals across Europe and further strengthened partnerships with brands such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, 7UP and Red Bull.

Every Can Counts Europe, the umbrella organisation, was established as a non-profit international association with its own structure, statutes and central budget. The main objectives of ECC Europe are to maximise PR and social media impact across Europe, enable economies of scale, better harmonise messages and branding, attract attention from the EU Institutions, become a one-stop-shop for brand owners, EPR schemes, event and festival
organisers.

The initiative was rebranded with new eye-catching visuals, key messages, and efficient communication tools aimed at targeting and reaching even more consumers, brand owners and potential partners. Keep your eyes peeled for the new Every Can Counts!

Cada Lata Cuenta at the Womad festival in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria – can collection backpacks combined with ambassadors on stilts for maximum visibility.

 

An example of the new Every Can Counts branding and messages.

 

 

Every Can Counts’ Pixelcan wall in the heart of Brussels for Le Grand Départ of Le Tour de France.

Recycling

Recycling

Waste Shipment Regulation Review

The Waste Shipment Regulation lays down rules for waste shipments within the EU and between EU and non-EU countries to improve environmental protection.

A well-functioning Waste Shipment Regulation is crucial to enable Europe’s circular economy and ensure the efficient use of raw materials.

The European Commission’s review must tackle the regulation’s shortcomings to help create a truly circular economy. In particular, we call for:

  • the simplification and harmonisation of the rules applied by Competent Authorities
    in the EU;
  •  the introduction of new green codes;
  •  the creation of a level playing field and equivalent conditions for exported waste;
  •  and the increase of the thresholds for research & development and laboratory testing.

European Aluminium has advocated all of these recommendations to the European Commission and remains engaged in the process.

Lead Exemption under the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive 2002/95/EC

Aluminium produced from recycled scrap metal may contain lead. This is as a result of the unintentional and/or unavoidable release of lead content from scrap entering the recycling process and consequently transferring to the new cast alloys. 

Allowing the use of lead-containing aluminium scrap at a reduced level provides the possibility for effective and efficient use of recycled aluminium scrap without posing any health or environmental risks and will facilitate the natural reduction of lead containing scrap on the market.

European Aluminium applied for an extension for another five years of the current exemption under 6bI for aluminium. We asked for the lead limit to be lowered to 0.3 percent by weight, a scope narrowed to casting alloys, and a clarification of the wording that lead-bearing aluminium scrap is the only source of the lead. 

Lead Environmental Classification under Classification, Labelling & Packaging Regulation

The European Commission is considering introducing a new harmonised environmental classification for lead metal. The proposal consists of the same environmental classification for both lead metal in its massive and powder forms.

European Aluminium has been working hand in hand with its members and the wider network of associations; a preliminary outcome from the regulatory bodies can be expected in 2020.

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