Lightweight, durable and infinitely recyclable, aluminum can help solve many global energy and climate challenges. The U.S. aluminum industry is continuously innovating to reduce energy use and carbon impacts of production.
Aluminum is a big part of a greener future.
Aluminum Climate Agenda
The U.S. aluminum industry has reduced its energy use in recent decades, even while meeting rising demand for the material. Still, producing aluminum – particularly new (or primary) aluminum – is an inherently energy-intensive process. We need reliable and abundant domestic energy sources to keep aluminum jobs here at home. U.S. aluminum producers have a long history of investing time and resources to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions. In fact, making a pound of primary aluminum in North America today is about 27% less energy intensive and half as carbon intensive as it was in the 1990s. Given that it takes only about 5% of the energy to make recycled versus new aluminum, policies to grow U.S. recycling is also a key part of any comprehensive energy strategy for the industry.
The aluminum industry has a long history of successful partnerships with federal regulators and looks to continue these partnerships to further advance the United States’ energy, environmental and economic competitiveness. In the early 2000s, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized the aluminum industry as a “Climate Leader” following its partnership with the agency to reduce perfluorocarbon emissions by 85%. The Aluminum Association also frequently partners with the Department of Energy (DOE) to promote the use of aluminum in the transportation and building sectors.
The Aluminum Association supports:
- Increased research and development (R&D): Accelerate federal investments that advance research, development and deployment of new technologies to improve energy efficiency, including leveraging public-private partnerships.
- Improved energy access: Facilitate industrial access to affordable and reliable energy, and maximize the nation’s natural gas benefit for U.S. manufacturers.
- Investment in renewables: Promote renewable energy sources and incentivize the expansion of electric vehicle adoption.
- Modernized electric grid: Prioritize projects to modernize the electric grid, including distributed system technologies and hybrid microgrid systems.
- Updated regulatory approach: Develop market-oriented, transparent and modernized regulations on energy transmission and ratemaking that reflect the needs of energy-intensive industries and other electricity consumers.
- Growing recycling: Promote increased consumer and industrial recycling, including policies and programs to increase participation in curbside and municipal recycling programs and to reduce the landfilling of recyclable products. Learn more about the Aluminum Association’s position on recycling policy.
Sustainability is a cornerstone of the aluminum business. The industry supports policies to address the environmental impacts of aluminum production, including climate change. Over the past 30 years, the aluminum industry in North America has cut the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions from primary aluminum production by half while doubling the amount of aluminum collected for recycling. Regulations should balance both economic and environmental outcomes and prevent the unintended consequence of emissions and jobs “leakage” to countries with more carbon and energy-intensive aluminum production. Environmental regulations should address an identified need, be fact-and-science based and provide recognition for industries, like aluminum, that have already made significant strides to reduce emissions. The U.S. aluminum industry favors a “life cycle” approach to environmental research that tracks the impact of a product in all stages of its life – from raw material extraction to production to use and disposal (or recycling).
The Aluminum Association supports:
- Market-based greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction policies: Provide broadly applicable, market-based mechanisms for GHG) reductions.
- Consideration of Energy Intensive, Trade Expose (EITE) impact: Build into policymaking a recognition of the unique effects of climate policy on EITE) industries, such as aluminum.
- No jobs and emission “leakage”: Prevent the unintended consequence of GHG emission and jobs “leakage” to countries with less stringent regulations resulting in an overall global GHG emissions increase.
- Recognition for early action: Acknowledge early and voluntary actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in policy development.
- A more circular economy: Promote aluminum’s role in advancing the circular economy’s energy efficiency, recycling and decarbonization attributes.
On air and water quality regulation, the Aluminum Association supports:
- Updated SO2 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS): Revise SO2 NAAQS to comply with the Clean Air Act mandate consistent with the need to protect human health. Maintenance of the existing Ozone and Particulate Matter NAAQS.
- Modernized New Source Review (NSR) process: Reform the NSRR) air emissions permitting program to increase transparency and reduce barriers to expanding operations or initiating new facilities.
- Streamlined chemical reporting rules: Require chemical reporting that reduces complexity and occurs at the point of raw materials import.
- Maximum Available Control Technology (MACT) reviews: Complete timely and consistent aluminum manufacturing MACT) reviews aligned with current science.
- Revised aluminum water quality criteria: Implement revisions to aluminum water quality criteria under the Clean Water Act to reflect the current knowledge of how aluminum behaves in water. Support for state implementation of the revisions and for a new test method that reflects the fraction of aluminum that is actually bioavailable.
High-strength, low-weight aluminum is essential to creating the vehicles of tomorrow. Aluminum is the fastest growing material used by automakers; the industry has invested more than $3 billion over the last decade in the United States to meet increased demand. By safely reducing overall vehicle weight, aluminum helps reduce emissions in internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles and extends the battery range of battery electric vehicles (BEV). The electric vehicle revolution is built on an aluminum architecture. National labs have verified that aluminum enables safer, higher performing, more efficient and cost-effective vehicle construction. Aluminum chassis, shock towers, motor and battery housings and internal panels allow electric vehicles to travel farther, safer. Future fuel economy standards should recognize the benefits of vehicle mass reduction as a safe and value-add option for automakers seeking to develop the next generation of high-performance and high-efficiency cars, trucks and SUVs.
The Aluminum Association supports:
- Data-driven decision-making: Follow the latest data and science on technology, safety, emissions, sales and consumer preferences to set fuel economy standards at the legally required “maximum feasible” levels.
- Regulatory certainty through one national program: Ensure state and federal regulators work toward a single, national fuel economy standard, which will increase certainty and avoid a divided system that would stifle innovation and investment.
- 21st century electric vehicle infrastructure: Dramatically expand the number of electric vehicle charging stations nationwide. Despite the growing demand for electric vehicles, the nation does not yet have the necessary charging infrastructure to support widespread BEV adoption.
Sustainability at our core.
The aluminum industry is more sustainable today than ever before. And thanks to increased use of renewable energy, technology improvements and other voluntary efforts by our industry, the carbon footprint of aluminum production in North America has declined by half since 1991.
U.S. aluminum producers have reduced their environmental impact while increasing output, meeting the growing demand for the material while prioritizing sustainability.