Material Demand Reduction and Closed-Loop Recycling Automotive Aluminium

Philippa Horton Julian Allwood Paul Cassell Christopher Edwards

Environmentally aware automotive manufacturers recycle aluminum production scrap in closed-loop systems to generate environmental and financial savings. Further savings could be gained if material demand is reduced, through improving the material utilization of the production process. Since a more efficient production process generates less scrap, the opportunity for closed loop recycling reduces when material demand reduces. This paper investigates the interaction between material demand reduction and closed loop recycling for an aluminum intensive case-study vehicle. It identifies the greatest environmental and financial savings when both strategies are implemented together. It is shown that a 'recycled content' target does not capture these saving opportunities. It is recommended that automotive manufacturers set targets for both material utilization and scrap recovery, to simultaneously promote closed-loop recycling and material demand reduction.