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Aluminium and the environment

Ullrich Aluminium employs a life-cycle approach to address the challenges of climate change, focusing not only on the energy required to produce aluminium products but also on the energy savings to be made through their use and reuse.

It is in the use phase that the majority of energy is used and/or saved (e.g. during the useful life of cars, buildings, aircraft, etc).

Aluminium's contribution to sustainable transportation

The high strength-to-weight ratio of aluminium plays a crucial role in producing lighter vehicles and other forms of transport, reducing fuel consumption without compromising performance and safety. The use of lightweight aluminium components in a vehicle can save six to twelve times the energy taken to produce the primary aluminium used in its construction. Up to eight per cent fuel savings can be realized for every 10% reduction in weight.

One kilogram of aluminium, used to replace heavier materials in a car or light truck, has the potential to eliminate 20kg of CO2 over the lifetime of the vehicle. For other vehicles, such as trains, ferries and aircraft, the potential savings are even greater. Aluminium is increasingly becoming the material of choice in modern sustainable buildings due to its corrosion resistance and recyclability.

The energy used for primary production is embodied, to a large extent, in the metal and, consequently, in the building too. Today’s buildings and their contents therefore present large“urban mines” of around 400 million tonnes of aluminium metal that can be extracted and recycled by future generations through the use of only 5% of the originally used energy, not just once but repeatedly.

Aluminium is extensively employed in buildings, but it does not remain permanently in place. Buildings are remodeled periodically, and even deconstructed, thereby freeing the aluminium for recycling. Therefore, it is not inaccurate to regard this aluminium as “urban ore” and cities as “urban mines”.

The aluminium is embodied in such items as exterior surfaces, counters, appliances, and electronics. In highly-developed countries, aluminium in buildings of all types amounts to between 120 and 200 kg per person.

Globally, it is estimated that buildings and their contents contain some 400 million tonnes of aluminium, which can be extracted and reused by future generations time after time, requiring only about 5% of the energy originally used to extract and process aluminium from more traditional geologic sources.

Aluminium recycling thus not only represents good urban housekeeping, it provides major energy benefits today and tomorrow.”


Recycling aluminium does not compromise any of its unique properties and uses only 5% of the energy used to create the original product. Aluminium can be reused endlessly – approximately two-thirds of all aluminium ever produced is still in use today – representing a growing “energy and resource bank”


Aluminium can weigh only one third of a piece of steel that is the same size and shape


Aluminium in its different applications can act as both a good barrier against and conductor.

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