Environment and Climate Change
The aluminum industry operates about 200 plants in 30 U.S.
states, employing roughly 100,000 people with approximately a $3.5
billion total payroll. While Association member companies conduct
business worldwide, the U.S aluminum industry ranks fourth in the world
in annual primary aluminum production, accounting for about 16 percent
of world supply, or over 8 billion pounds of metal. The Association
represents U.S. primary producers of aluminum, recyclers, producers of
semi-fabricated products, and suppliers.
Americans consume aluminum primarily in transportation (34 percent),
containers and packaging (20 percent), and building and construction (14
percent). Advances in the automotive aluminum market are helping
Americans drive better-performing cars that in turn reduce
carbon-dioxide emissions and fuel consumption.
Recycled aluminum—from beverage cans to all other
uses—requires only about 5 percent of the energy as compared to
ore-to-primary production. Americans’ recycling efforts and the
industry’s aluminum reclamation system reduce the overall energy
consumption in total U.S. aluminum production by 46 percent.
Industry Background on Voluntary GHG Emissions Reduction
The aluminum industry’s Voluntary Aluminum Industrial
Partnership has focused efforts on reducing two potent PFCs,
tetrafluoromethane (CF4) and hexafluoroethane (C2F6)—and has
achieved great success toward this goal. Twelve companies in this
aluminum industry program were recognized by President George W.
Bush’s 2002 Climate Change Report and the EPA 2002 Climate
Protection Award for meeting their 2000 goal. Their actions reduced PFC
emissions from U.S. primary aluminum smelting by 45
percent—equivalent to 2.2 million metric tons of carbon-dioxide
In 2003 the primary aluminum sector joined the U.S. Climate Vision
program to further reduce PFC emissions. This goal of 53 percent
reduction on direct CO2 emissions (a combined direct carbon emission
from 1990 to 2010 based on PFC reductions and reduced anode carbon
consumption) equates to an additional reduction of 25 percent since
2000. This goal was surpassed in 2005 with a 56 percent reduction from
2007 Aluminum Industry Position on Climate Change
1. Scientists have determined that the earth is gradually
warming due, in part, to increased atmospheric concentrations of
greenhouse gases due to human activities.
2. The aluminum industry recognizes that climate change presents a
challenge that requires cooperative action on a global basis, and
promotes international participation.
3. Climate policies should recognize the benefits of recycling toward
GHG emissions reduction. After the initial energy investment in primary
aluminum production, the recycling of aluminum saves 95 percent of
energy and greenhouse gas emissions. The industry’s complementary
primary and reclamation system thereby reduces the overall energy
consumption in total U.S. aluminum production by approximately 46
percent, and reduces GHGs by approximately 38 percent. The industry sees
opportunity for further reduction and supports policy that provides
incentives for recycling.
4. Life-cycle studies of aluminum’s use in North American
automotive applications show that replacing two pounds of traditional
material with one pound of aluminum to lightweight a vehicle can save on
a typical mid-size sedan 20 pounds of CO2 emissions over the lifetime of
that vehicle. The use of automotive aluminum has doubled since 1991 and
is expected to continue growing over the next decade. This
light-weighting savings occurs also for trucks, buses, trains, boats,
and ships for all transportation means. Any climate change policy should
recognize and provide incentives for additional transportation
light-weighting applications that reduce transportation-related GHG
5. The aluminum industry’s Voluntary Aluminum Industrial
Partnership has met or exceeded goals since 1990. From 1990 to 2000 the
program reduced by about 45 percent PFC (CF4 and C2F6) emissions,
resulting in annual emissions reductions of over 2.2 MMTCE. Since the
industry has taken the initiative to voluntarily reduce its process
greenhouse gas emissions, it strongly supports policies and programs
that give credit for early action taken since 1990.
6. The industry supports efficient and economically sound emissions
trading programs and registries that recognize early emissions
reductions. It supports an economy-wide, fair-market-driven approach
that may include a cap and trade program that limits GHG emissions. The
approach should result in market incentives that stimulate investment
and innovation in technologies necessary to grow while achieving
environmental reduction targets.
7. To reduce potential negative impacts on the U.S. manufacturing
sector, which by 2005 had already reduced total GHG emissions below 1990
levels, provision should be made in any GHG program to reduce the
expected negative impacts of energy cost increases such as through
corporate tax credits.
8. The industry participates in and recommends public/private
partnerships to spur pre-competitive research to reduce greenhouse gas
process emissions and to promote energy saving aluminum product
9. The industry supports a responsible approach to growth in demand for
its products and the consequent growth in activity and related
emissions, noting that solutions to the climate change issue involve
both reducing emissions at the source, and also over the full life cycle
of the material or products.