The European Commission’s long-anticipated proposal for the revision of the Waste Shipment Regulation was published in November 2021. The proposal identifies progress in establishing a level playing field for EXTRA-EU shipments and the need to reduce the complexity and administrative burden associated with INTRA-EU waste shipments. This file is a key priority for the aluminium sector because it can help to ensure a continuous supply of scrap in Europe and maximise the sector’s contribution to the EU’s Circular Economy and Green Deal ambitions. We cooperate with policy makers, cross-industry partners, the full recycling value chain, and downstream partners to develop a holistic framework that can strengthen the transition to a circular economy.
The EU’s Waste Framework Directive lays down basic concepts and definitions related to waste management, including definitions of waste, recycling, and recovery. European Aluminium welcomes the Commission’s intention to revise this framework. Modernising waste legislation is a timely and necessary step to establish a resource-based framework fit for the transition to a Circular Economy and well-equipped to meet the objectives of the European Green Deal.
We are working with policy makers in developing the proposal and are providing relevant evidence and information on aluminium collection and recycling as well as the responsible management of industrial waste.
In 2020, the European Commission started working on the review of the End-of-Life Vehicle (ELV) Directive. The Commission’s proposal is expected by the end of 2022. The ELV Directive is pivotal to determining the destiny of ELVs – and the raw materials that can be found therein – in Europe. It will establish modernised rules for the collection, treatment, and data reporting for all car materials and components, including aluminium.
Given the increasing use of aluminium in automotive applications, it has become critical for the European aluminium industry to contribute to the review of legislation concerning the mobility sector’s increased circularity and environmental sustainability.
European Aluminium is working closely with the European Commission on this Directive. We want to ensure that the revised ELV Directive focuses on improving the quality of recycled materials to ensure their reuse in closed loops and high-quality applications and takes action against any illegal shipment or treatment of ELVs.
To support our recommendations, we commissioned the study Dismantling End-of-Life Vehicles for better aluminium recycling to investigate the recycling process of ELVs and evaluate the feasibility of dismantling aluminium components from ELVs before shredding. The study showed that increasing the dismantling rates of specific car components depends on profitability, access to the right information, and training. It also confirmed that the collection rates of ELVs, especially for premium vehicles, should increase. Avoiding the loss of these vehicles and ensuring their treatment in Europe could significantly increase the amount of aluminium recovered each year.
While cobalt and lithium are probably best known for being used in energy storage, batteries generally use a wide variety of minerals for the cathode, including aluminium. Aluminium is also widely used in battery enclosures.
For this reason, our sector wants to help establish a competitive and sustainable EU battery value chain and supports the EU Batteries Regulation that establishes mandatory requirements for all batteries placed on the EU market, including safety, sustainability, and carbon footprint requirements.
We support the use of life cycle assessment to assess the environmental performance of products, ambitious and realistic collection targets for portable batteries and the introduction of robust methodology and ensure a thorough impact assessment before considering the possibility of introducing the mandatory recycled content targets.
In November 2022, the European Commission published its revision of the Packaging and Packaging Waste regulation (PPWR). One of the primary goals of the proposed revision is to prevent packaging waste and make all packaging recyclable by 2030.
Aluminium is a popular packaging material for food, drinks and pharmaceutical products because it provides a total barrier function, safeguarding the product's integrity and prolonging its shelf life. Aluminium is a top performer among recycling packaging materials, with a 73% recycling rate for aluminium beverage cans in EU27, UK, EFTA, in 2020.
To achieve the EU’s goal of making all packaging reusable or recyclable by 2030, high-quality recycling must be prioritised. This requires a precise definition that includes materials like aluminium, which can be recycled over and over again without property changes and minimal material loss. Moreover, the way packaging is collected directly impacts the quantity and quality of the collected materials that can be recycled. By establishing well-functioning and modern PMD collection systems using the latest separation technologies such as double Eddy Current separators and pyrolysis, we can significantly improve the availability of high-quality recycled materials, consequently reducing our dependence on primary raw materials.
Being endlessly recyclable, aluminium plays an essential role in the circular economy. Read our strategy for reaching the full circularity of all aluminium products.
Our strategy for reaching aluminium's full potential for a circular economy by 2030.
Discover how lightweighting and recycling cars are compatible goals.
Aluminium can contribute to the lightweighting of vehicles and their recyclability. In today’s modern plants, 95% of the aluminium in an End of Life Vehicle (ELV) is already reused or recycled into new aluminium products.
Discover our joint Roadmap with Metal Packaging Europe towards 100% real recycling of aluminium beverage cans by 2030.
Read how we will achieve a 100% recycling rate for aluminium beverage cans by 2030.
Life Cycle Inventory data (2017-2019) for the production of cast alloys ingot from scrap and waste.
An in-depth study on the environmental performance of aluminium refining processes used to produce cast alloy aluminium ingots from aluminium scrap.
Boosting resource efficiency and decarbonisation
Aluminium is a frontrunner of the circular economy. Being fully recyclable, our material keeps its original properties no matter how many times it is processed. Moreover, aluminium recycling allows us to reduce energy consumption by 95% compared to primary aluminum production, representing a clear environmental benefit. So by recycling, we are reducing our own carbon footprint and the carbon footprint of key sectors such as building & construction, mobility, and packaging.
We are proud that we are already achieving recycling rates of up to 90%, but to unleash the full potential of the circular economy, we need to improve the legislative conditions for collecting and sorting waste. This includes design for recycling, dedicated collection systems, better sorting and pre-treatment technologies, and more stringent criteria for shipping waste outside of Europe.