Increased recycling rates might not be the solution to reducing aluminum’s carbon footprint Recycling

In order to actually see results in climate change and efforts to limit the amount of carbon we release into the atmosphere, we need to not only talk about doing so and make plants for our actions, but to actually act, because without acting we won’t be able to reach goals like slowing down global warming and such. One of the main ways how to start acting is to make sure the greenhouse gas emission numbers are dropping, and dropping pretty drastically, because as of right now these numbers are still pretty high. However, popular to common belief, more recycling is not the solution here, since it is not the thing to provide solution to greenhouse gas emissions.

As good as the aluminum industry is, it actually is one of the largest sources of carbon emissions, according to an analysis published in Nature Climate Change research journal. The article also showed how hard it would be to actually reduce emissions at any step throughout the aluminum life cycle, since the process is not only long, but also calls for significant resources. Of course recycling is a possible solution here, since aluminum can not only be recycled many times, but also recycled uses much less resources like energy and money. However, increase in aluminum recycling amount might not be the real solution.

If we look at the aluminum life cycle then the process that creates the most amount of gas emissions is smelting of aluminum ore in order to create new aluminum. In fact it accounts for about 1% of the global greenhouse gas emissions, which is a lot. And because of this aluminum industry concentrates so much of their efforts on recycling.

Although the industry has achieved that about half of raw aluminum for manufacturing is indeed made from recycled aluminum, most of this recycled aluminum has never seen consumers or been shaped into a product, but rather consists of remains left over from manufacturing process, is so it really isn’t a true recycled aluminum and isn’t really doing any good to the emission decreasing process. Norwegian researchers found that only post-consumer aluminum, for example aluminum cans or food packaging, is able to lover the emission amount, so the industry really needs to work towards getting their post-consumer aluminum recycling numbers up not just recycle more per-consumer aluminum, in order to really lower the amount of emissions the industry creates.

In the end, more recycling isn’t the answer to reducing aluminum’s carbon footprint, recycling of aluminum, that has been used by consumers is, so recycle your aluminum cans, tin food trays and any other aluminum products and we might just finally see a decrease of how much greenhouse gases aluminum industry make.

Interested in green lifestyle, blogging and sports. Always searching for ways to improve myself and the environment around me. Editor for


  1. This is so easy to do (Throw can in bin), and save so much energy!

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