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11 March 2024

Recently, the Circularity Working Group (CWG) has convened a series of meetings to explore, discuss, and strategize on enhancing circularity across different segments of the aluminium value chain. Here, we summarise the discussions from three meetings held in February and March 2024, shedding light on the challenges and opportunities in bauxite mining and alumina refining, aluminium packaging, and the automotive aluminium sector.

  • Bauxite Mining and Alumina Refining (21st February 2024): The CWG’s inaugural session on bauxite mining and alumina refining underscored the substantial waste streams generated from these processes. With 340 Mt of bauxite produced globally, the meeting spotlighted the need for efficient waste management practices, emphasising the refinement of ASI Standards and Guidance to foster circularity. A significant insight focused on Best Practices in Pre-Mining Activities and Mine Rehabilitation, highlighting sustainable land use and its impact on ecosystems and communities before mining operations begin.
  • Aluminium Packaging (28th February 2024): The follow-up meeting focused on the circularity of aluminium packaging, revealing a recycling rate of 71% but also highlighting disparities across regions. Discussions revolved around enhancing product design for circularity, addressing the challenges of complex recycling processes, and identifying sector-wide solutions like deposit schemes. The dialogue also covered the challenges of thermodynamics in the sorting, collection, and recycling of aluminium packaging, alongside fostering collaborative initiatives across the value chain to improve circularity.
  • Automotive Aluminium (6th March 2024): The most recent meeting concentrated on the automotive sector, recognising the growing demand for aluminium driven by electric vehicle production and a preference for SUVs. The discussion centred on integrating circular design principles and setting ambitious sustainability targets, marking a proactive approach to achieving circularity in automotive aluminium. The emphasis was on bridging gaps in circularity through design for recycling and expanding the concepts of reuse and remanufacturing.

Across these meetings, a common thread emerged: the need for a unified vision that embraces circular economy principles at every stage of the aluminium value chain. From mining and refining to packaging and automotive applications, the CWG is committed to redefining waste management, optimising resource use, and fostering innovation to achieve circularity. This entails not only technological advancements but also a cultural shift towards viewing waste as a resource and embedding circularity into the very fabric of the aluminium industry.

Join us for the next CWG meetings on 24 April and 8 May 2024 to discuss advancing circularity in the aluminium sector. For inclusion in the CWG list, contact Gabriel Carmona Aparicio, Circularity Research Manager.

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