Aluminium Facts and Figures

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Aluminium use on planet earth

The total consumption of aluminium in all its various forms (rolled, extruded, cast, forged etc.) in 2015 was estimated to be 60 million tons.

  • 50 million tons was produced from primary metal (refined from bauxite ore and smelted into aluminium)
  • 10 million tons was produced from recycled metal

Approximately 1 billion tons of aluminium are in use in the world today – as these products (planes, cars, buildings, appliances, smart phones) reach the end of their life they will provide more recycling opportunities. A beverage can has a life measured in weeks – a commercial airliner can be in service for 30 years – but they will both be recycled back into aluminium products.

Recycling aluminium consumes only 5% of the energy needed to smelt primary aluminium.

No other major industrial material has such a large difference between the impact of its two sources (primary or scrap) on the environment.

Some fun and serious facts about aluminium

  • Aluminium is the third most common element on planet earth – after oxygen and silicon.
  • It wasn’t until 1851 as modern chemistry developed that aluminium was finally separated from its ore by Henri Sainte-Claire Deville (photo right) in Paris.
  • Aluminium ore is called bauxite - a reddish earth.
  • If you want more aluminium in your diet – eat potatoes. They absorb aluminium from the soil they grow in.
  • There is lots of aluminium on the moon. The moon was once part of planet earth too.
  • In the 1850s, aluminium was more valuable than gold – aluminium was priced at $1,200 per kg and gold at $664 per kg.
  • Aluminium’s first use was in jewellery.
  • The statue of Eros in London’s Piccadilly Circus is made of aluminium – not even the pigeons can corrode it!
  • When you recycle an aluminium beverage can, it can be recycled back into a new can in under two months.
  • The energy you save by recycling a single aluminium can will run a TV for three hours.