A study released late last month by the Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s (WPI) Center for Resource Recovery and Recycling indicates that the recycling rate for aluminium in the United States automotive industry is at 91 percent overall.
The study, entitled “Automotive Aluminum Recycling at End of Life: A Grave-to-Gate Analysis,” is a peer-reviewed study and received funding from the Aluminum Association. It backs up research done previously by both public and private sector researchers regarding the high sustainability of aluminium in vehicle manufacturing.
“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,” said the founding director of WPI’s Metal Processing Institute Professor Diran Apelian. “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.”
Researchers indicate that they studied vehicle components in aluminium from the moment of obsolescence through the recycling process and to the moment that particular piece of metal is re-integrated in another vehicle or product. They posit that the high recycling rate is due to the value of aluminium as a manufacturing material, pointing to 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,” said chairman of the Aluminum Association’s Aluminum Transportation Group (ATG) and vice president and general manager, Automotive Value Stream, Novelis North America Tom Boney. “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.”