The most widely used non-ferrous metal in the world is aluminium. It can be found in transportation, construction, electrical transmissions, food packaging and household goods, among others. It is not commonly used in its pure state, but is usually alloyed with other metals to improve its characteristics. Its main producers worldwide are China, Russia and Canada. Although it should be noted that China produces about ten times more than Russia and Canada.
Aluminium can be obtained through extraction processes or through recycling processes in which its properties are not usually affected. The notable difference lies in the energy used in both processes, since recycling uses 90% less energy than extraction. Therefore, one of the most important points is the type of energy used in extraction. For example, in Canada, hydroelectric power is often used, while in China, coal is the main option, which increases carbon emissions considerably.
The problem is that aluminium produced with a tiny carbon footprint continues to be more expensive and not many companies are willing to increase their costs in the name of environmental protection. Despite this, companies such as Apple, Audi and Tesla are opting to purchase green aluminium in order to reduce their impact. For example, the third generation of Apple’s iPhone SE and the wheels of Audi’s e-trong GT are already produced with it.
In conclusion, there are two ways to reduce environmental pollution related to aluminium production. On the one hand, recycling, which involves much less energy than the extraction itself. On the other hand, if extraction is chosen instead of recycling, the determining factor will be the type of energy used. In this case, if clean energy is used, the positive impact will be in terms of lower carbon emissions.