Study finds aluminum recycling rate for autos tops 90 percent

Study finds aluminum recycling rate for autos tops 90 percent

Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s Center for Resource Recovery and Recycling conducts study for The Aluminum Association.

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July 29, 2016
Recycling Today Staff
Auto Shredding Nonferrous

The Aluminum Association, Arlington, Virginia, has released a research report from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute's (WPI) Center for Resource Recovery and Recycling that confirms an overall recycling rate of 91 percent for automotive aluminum.

The peer-reviewed study, funded by The Aluminum Association, examines how much aluminum used in the domestic light-duty automotive sector is recovered and recycled from vehicles at end of life. The Aluminum Association says the study supports findings from earlier third-party government and auto industry reports that claimed aluminum is the most sustainable choice for the environment.

"We set out to detail exactly how aluminum is separated and recovered at the end of a vehicle's service life, and findings show it is highly recyclable and is recovered and reused at very high rates," says Professor Diran Apelian, founding director of WPI's Metal Processing Institute, the home of the Center for Resource Recovery and Recycling. "With an eye toward reducing the nation's energy consumption, lowering carbon emissions and increasing fuel economy, this study confirms that as aluminum use continues to grow in the automotive sector it also enhances energy security and environmental protections."

The study, "Automotive Aluminum Recycling at End of Life: A Grave-to-Gate Analysis," details a "grave-to-gate" analysis, which spans the moment an automobile becomes obsolete to the moment the aluminum metal units are completely recycled and enter back into life as input material for new applications, including vehicles. Researchers attribute automotive aluminum's high recycling rate to the metal's economic value, citing the "concerted effort to recover this valuable lightweight commodity from end-of-life vehicles."

"Aluminum continues to show its fundamental value as a sustainable solution at every stage of an automobile's life," says Tom Boney, chairman of The Aluminum Association's Aluminum Transportation Group (ATG) and vice president and general manager, Automotive Value Stream, Novelis North America. "As the United States and the rest of the world continue to strive for a more environmentally friendly future, aluminum is a big part of the solution and this new data confirms it."

To view the full study, click here.