Environmental Impact

Environmentally Conscious Shipping Policy

It’s easy to see why so many companies fall for aluminum’s environmental appeal. It can be
recycled indefinitely. An aluminum can can become yet another aluminum can pretty much
without losing anything in the process. Most food-grade plastics, in contrast, are “downcycled,”
their quality degrading each time they’re rehashed.
The Aluminum Association, an industry group, says that almost 75 percent of all the aluminum
ever produced to date is still in use today. On the other hand, only 9 percent of all plastics ever
made have been recycled, according to a study published in the journal Science Advances in
2017. It found that 6.3 billion of the 8.3 billion metric tons of all the plastic ever made has
become waste. What to do with all that plastic became an even bigger dilemma for the United
States last year after China announced that it’s no longer accepting low-grade plastics for
Businesses across the United States are furthering their competitive advantage through the use
of aluminum—a 100 percent recyclable and sustainable metal. Aluminum’s sustainability is at
the forefront of creating competitive business advantages while also providing product
development advantages that win business and create jobs.

Take-Away Facts
 The profitable economics of sustainability
Aluminum is one of the only materials in the consumer and industrial waste stream
that more than pays for its own recycling. This recycling process propels business
activity rapidly. Aluminum cans return from the recycling bin to the store over and
over again in a true closed loop.
 Sustainability increases jobs
The sustainable nature of aluminum is increasing the size and economic impact of the
entire industry. 161,000 workers are directly employed in the industry and for each
aluminum industry job, approximately 3.3 employment positions are created
 A hundred years of aluminum’s sustainable success
Aluminum first entered the mainstream U.S. product market in the early 1900s,
through applications in the aluminum foil and packaging industry. Additionally, nearly
75 percent of all aluminum ever produced is still in use.
Recycling is a core business operation of the aluminum industry. In the United States and
Canada, the industry recycles more than 5 million tons of aluminum each year, most of which goes back directly into the North American supply. Because producing recycled aluminum is 92 percent more energy efficient than making new aluminum, the practice is both a business and environmental win for the industry. More can be done. Believe it or not, a 10 percent increase in aluminum end-of-life recycling rates decreases industry greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent.

The increased use of recycled aluminum is a significant trend in the industry. Nearly 40 percent of the North American aluminum supply is now created through secondary production (recycling processes). This figure is up from approximately 30 percent in the early 1990s. The environmental and economic win is profound: Production of aluminum from recycled metal saves more than 90 percent of the energy that would otherwise be required by primary production.