The industrial system of aluminium, a segment which must be enhanced to make a fresh start

Aluminium is the youngest among the most widely used metallic materials in the world, it is the third most abundant element on the earth’s crust after oxygen and silicon, it does not present any risk of future availability in terms of resources and reserves. Mainly used in alloys, it is the material of our times, present in every aspect of our daily life because of its ability to provide solutions to an infinite number of applications; it has become established in key sectors such as transport, construction, packaging, plant engineering, electro-technical systems, furniture, and machine manufacturing.

To give an idea of the rate of growth of its global use, we should remember that only one hundred years ago the worldwide use of primary aluminium was just over one hundred thousand tons per year; today we are close to 65 million tons, and the growth in use between now and 2050 is expected to exceed 40%. But aluminium is much more than this: with its properties allowing it to be recovered and recycled almost indefinitely without loss of performance, it is the champion material of environmental sustainability and of the ability to develop circular economy, therefore the real and only material for the ecological transition, centred on the reduction of emissions, decarbonisation, the efficiency of production chains, the development of eco-compatible materials and the development of advanced technologies for the management of industrial and urban waste. Considering that once the light metal has been produced it can be reused endlessly to generate new applications, over 75% of the aluminium ever produced is still in use today (with the great result of reducing the disposal of obsolete products), and indeed in Europe recycled metal now covers 36% of total uses. Not to mention the enormous energy saving which the complete recyclability of aluminium implies: the production of secondary aluminium requires only 5% of the energy required to produce the primary metal, with a quantity of CO2 emissions much lower than the production of primary aluminium; compared to the Chinese primary metal, emissions are reduced by more than 40 times. Aluminium is therefore the creator of environmental sustainability, it is the material of our future and, actually, the Green Deal, the ambitious development project launched by the European Commission, favours the use of an intelligent material such as aluminium, in addition to the growth of SMEs, that rich fabric of companies involved in the transformation, processing and final use of light metal and its alloys, which make up more than 90% of the consistency of the aluminium value chain in Italy and Europe. Therefore, even in the new scenarios created by the Recovery Fund in Italy, concrete measures will have to be taken to safeguard our system of aluminium value chain companies, from foundries to rolling and extrusion to processing, finishing and final applications. And it will also be advisable to think of articulated projects to promote and enhance internationally the knowledge, experience and excellence of our country in the field of production, technology, plant engineering and light metal applications. Our aluminium industrial system has the extraordinary potential of a solid sector rich in tradition and advanced content, investing in this industrial segment means planning for the future and rewarding an acknowledged and established technological and industrial excellence.