Renewable Matter # I-01 / Urban Mines of Aluminium

Zero Waste Disposal, 100% Recovery

by Gino Schiona

The excellent results that have been achieved in recent years in the packaging sector take up a new meaning, much more important than the evidence linked to matter and energy recovery. In reality, it is a result showing the catching on and the spreading of a lifestyle and consumption awareness and a culture consistent with truly sustainable growth.

 

In any of its uses, aluminium in particular fully represents and expresses the values and the principles of a system embracing the so-called circular economy, even anticipating the challenges and opportunities proposed by the European Commission within the efficient use of resources framework.

The strengthening of the Consortium’s role in all the national territory and of the relation network with Municipalities and operators, a cooperation that so far has guaranteed impressive results, now nearly represents the beginning of a new era. We are ready to tackle the challenges coming our way at European level and to grab the opportunities offered by Italy’s regulatory compliance.

An ever increasing domestic capacity to scrap in order to reduce even further the dependence on foreign imports is the goal pursued by the Consortium favouring the Italian aluminium sector that has proved to be a global leader both for the quantity and quality of its production, deriving almost completely from pre and post consumer recycling. 

It is not a coincidence that while renewing the ANCI-CONAI Framework Agreement, amongst the changes, we introduced a maximum threshold of homogeneous goods fraction that can be disposed of together with packaging. This means facilitating and promoting the recycling of everyday aluminium objects and products, often small items, that have reached their end of life and that until not long ago ended up in the residual waste flow. Today these objects can feed the efficient and well-established aluminium packaging managing flow, becoming a new resource, also in economic terms, for all Italian Municipalities and at the end of the day for citizens as well. 

The EU is setting ever increasingly ambitious recycling goals, with the need to adopt increasingly advanced and reliable technologies to guarantee the maximization of any kind of recyclable fraction cutting even further the final waste disposal. These goals seem to reflect the strategy adopted by CiAl over ten years ago. That is “Zero waste disposal, 100% recovery”. 

In a true circular economy spirit, whose principles are very much akin to aluminium values, the metal to metal loop guarantees that energy and matter in any aluminium product last over time, without compromising its chemical and physical performance by being reused and thus preserved endlessly in any further use. From this stems the idea of permanent material, associated to those metals that, thanks to these specific characteristics, cannot be included in materials deriving from renewable resources but they can neither belong to the non-renewable category. 

In order to offer an up-to-date panorama and overview of the entire productive and recycling sectors of different kind of products and uses, associated to an analysis of the Italian but also of the European and global context, we asked Ambiente Italia to write a report able to confirm aluminium performances and economic, energy, environmental and social benefits. As well as the potential and possible development areas where the exploitation of “urban aluminium mines” can be further increased. 

Thus, the study offers a snapshot of the current situation and shows clearly the interesting opportunities and contributions that the aluminium sector will be able to guarantee in the future, as a leading figure, in a sector that is already deeply based on the principles of the circular economy and that is a real asset to the Italian economy.

 

 

Aluminium Packaging Consortium, www.cial.it

Ambiente Italia, www.ambienteitalia.it