FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aluminum Association Testifies Before House Subcommittee on Environment
and the Economy
"The U.S. aluminum industry is a great example of an industry
providing a positive economic impact while mitigating negative
WASHINGTON, D.C, June 27, 2012 - (News Release) -
Vice President for
Environment, Health and Safety Charles Johnson testified before the
House of Representative's Energy and Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on
Environment and the Economy. The Association's testimony was related to
the discussion draft bill entitled "The Increasing Manufacturing
Competitiveness through Improved Recycling Act of 2012."
The Association's testimony follows:
Chairman Shimkus, Ranking Member Green and Members of the
Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy:
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to testify before this
committee today. My name is Charles Johnson and I am the Vice President
for Environment, Health and Safety at The Aluminum Association. The
Aluminum Association is a membership trade association representing U.S.
aluminum producers, recyclers, and industry suppliers. I am responsible
for the Association's efforts to limit the impact of our industry on the
environment while increasing the positive impacts on the economy.
Before moving further with my statement, on behalf of industry I want
to commend Congressman Sullivan for offering this draft bill and his
continued efforts to increase recycling as a critical piece of U.S.
energy and sustainability efforts.
The U.S. aluminum industry believes this legislation is critical
- Recycling is a source of sustainable, private sector driven green
- Recycling is a vital part of energy efficiency and should be part of
our nation's energy solutions;
- The collection of better waste and recycling data, facilitated by
this legislation will allow consumers, policymakers and industry to more
rapidly achieve a higher recycling rate; and
- Increasing recycling will further benefit industry, improve
sustainability, contribute to our country's energy efficiency goals,
decrease solid waste in landfills, and create jobs.
In 2010, Americans recycled $1.6 billion in aluminum cans. If the
industry's beverage can recycling goal of 75 percent was achieved, the
payback to American consumers would be $2.1 billion. Aluminum's
infinitely recyclable nature means scrap metal has high value, and the
processing and recycling of the metal yields a significant impact on the
economy and in job creation. Because aluminum recycling saves energy,
recycling jobs are green jobs.
Marketing trends are leading all recycling industries to take more
recycled materials but this material is not always available. The
American public is demanding more environmentally responsible solutions.
Wal-Mart, Target and many others are demanding increasingly sustainable
packaging with higher environmental benefits. The demands for those
benefits are part of a larger shift in consumer preferences for our
products. This shift is becoming as important to industry as access to
Our industry views the "Increasing Manufacturing Competitiveness
through Improved Recycling Act of 2012" as a critical next step in
advancing the practice of recycling, and improving the operating
efficiency and environmental impact of the aluminum industry. Gathering
basic data that is not currently available is critical for understanding
the current recycling situation in America. In 1990, 39% of consumers
said they were confused about what was good and bad for the environment.
Quality data allows consumers, industry and policymakers to successfully
examine new proposals and plans for improving recycling using facts, and
The U.S. aluminum industry is a great example of an industry
providing a positive economic impact while mitigating negative
environmental impacts. In 2009, 87 percent of the energy consumed by the
North American aluminum industry was offset by energy saving achieved
through the use of aluminum to make automobiles and light trucks more
fuel efficient. Similarly, in 2009, 92 percent of the aluminum
industry's cumulative greenhouse gas emissions could be considered to be
offset from GHG emissions reductions achieved by increasing aluminum
content in the transport sector. Automotive aluminum represents only 26
percent of North American sector shipments. Aluminum's use in other
sectors, including building and construction, consumer durables,
electrical wiring and packaging imparts greater energy and emissions
saving through the material's use-phase and helps to neutralize
industrial energy usage and emissions.
The metallic, elemental nature of aluminum means that it is
infinitely recyclable. It can be recycled over and over with no loss of
quality. In fact, 75 percent of all aluminum ever produced since 1888 is
still in use today. Recycling aluminum saves 95 percent of the energy
and emits only 5 percent of the greenhouse gases associated with primary
Therefore, aluminum recycling provides a massive opportunity for
energy efficiency. The recycling of one aluminum can saves enough energy
to power a 100-watt light bulb for four hours. In the aluminum industry,
recycling directly translates to energy saving. The metal of a beverage
container can be thought of as solid energy and recycling saves that
energy each time it is re-used instead of burying it in a landfill.
In the simplest form, the business case for increasing aluminum
recycling is based on the fact that increasing recycling will increase
energy efficiency. The aluminum industry's position in favor of
recycling is not green washing; it's green business for us.
Over the last twenty years, the North American industry has decreased
energy usage 17 percent and greenhouse gas emissions 42 percent for
primary production. During the same period, recycling energy
requirements and greenhouse gas emissions have gone down about 60
Based on our interactions with recycling experts, waste haulers and
municipal recycling facilities, we know that better information leads to
more efficient recycling that maximizes environmental gain and material
efficiency, while minimizing collection and reclamation costs.
The most widely recognized application for aluminum is the beverage
can. The can is the most recycled beverage container in America. In an
average aluminum can, 68 percent is recycled content; the highest amount
of any beverage container. The metal's infinite recyclability and high
value means a beverage container goes from recycling bin and back to
store shelves in less than 60 days.
In 2010, 58.1 percent of aluminum cans were recycled in the United
States. This bill, to improve our understanding of municipal recycling,
is vital for our industry to bring consumer recycling in line with
aluminum recycling in other product sectors, which is greater than 90
percent. It will also be vital to help our understanding of how we might
raise our can recycling rate to the level of other countries
â€“ many of which are in the 90 percent level or
The aluminum industry has an established goal of reaching a 75
percent aluminum can recycling rate by 2015. We are engaged in various
initiatives including establishing and funding a new organization called
the Curbside Value Partnership with other material manufacturing
organizations and makers of packaging products. Curbside Value
Partnership works with municipalities to increase consumer participation
in existing recycling programs. Our evaluation of the program indicates
that it routinely results in a 17 percent increase in household
participation, translating into a 22 percent increase in tons of
recycled materials. Data generation and analysis, a requirement that
must be carried out as part of the program, is a key to that success.
Cities must implement a tracking system to better understand what
material is coming back and re-introduced into a new useful life.
A robust material tracking and data gathering system is necessary
because of the complexities of materials recycling value chains. For
example, differences in material weights and scrap value complicate
consumer behavior choices. Aluminum's material characteristics of high
strength to weight and corrosion resistance allow for uses that weigh
less than other materials performing the same job. Measuring recycling
by comingled weight undercuts the full benefit of aluminum recycling to
the environment and its subsidizing role in most curbside programs.
The aluminum industry is committed to increasing recycling because an
increased recycling rate is good for business and good for the
environment. Recycling is key to the sustainability of the aluminum
industry in an economic and environmental context. Recycling
efficiencies should also be a key consideration in our country's energy
strategy. For these reasons, the aluminum industry is ready to work with
EPA to improve our understanding of the waste and recycling streams.
A more robust understanding of the quantity of materials in the solid
waste stream provides industry and policymakers with the most
appropriate data to develop solutions to increasing the U.S. recycling
There are many proposed solutions to increasing recycling in America
but industry and policymakers need data to best understand which method
I look forward to answering your questions and the Aluminum
Association stands ready to assist the Committee in exploring ways to
advance our country's recycling goals.
# # #
The Aluminum Association, based in Arlington, Virginia, works
globally to aggressively promote aluminum as the most sustainable and
recyclable automotive, packaging and construction material in today's
market. The Association represents U.S. and foreign-based primary
producers of aluminum, aluminum recyclers and producers of fabricated
products, as well as industry suppliers. Member companies operate more
than 200 plants in the United States, with many conducting business