Gränges works to reduce the climate impact from sourced metal inputs by expanding the use of recycled aluminium as this can save up to 95 per cent of the energy needed to produce primary aluminium. The environmental value of recycling increases downstream in the value chain and end-of-life recycling is a clear positive contributor to the circular aluminium usage. Gränges sources pre-consumer used materials from customers and recycling companies and post-consumer used materials from recycling companies. The company also recirculates processed aluminium from its own operations.
Varying conditions and availability
The conditions and availability of recycled aluminium differ geographically, and the feasibility to increase usage depends on type of production (clad versus unclad products) as well as local availability. Since aluminium is often used as a long-lasting material in buildings and vehicles with long lifespans, the availability of recycled aluminium can be a significant constraint. It can also be a challenge to recycle aluminium since it is often used in combination with other materials, and since an efficient process requires good sorting, separating and re-melting technologies. Moreover, material for brazed heat exchangers consists of clad materials where different alloys are rolled together, which makes it difficult to separate upon recovery. Brazed heat exchangers are challenging to recycle at end-of-life as the various constituents are difficult to separate and sort.
In Gränges’ operations in Shanghai and Finspång, where a high number of alloys for brazed heat exchanger applications are produced, strict sorting of recycled aluminium is required to secure that the materials fit well in the specific alloys produced. In Asia, the Chinese market for recycled aluminium continued to emerge, and Gränges operations increased the volumes of sourced recycled aluminium significantly during 2020, although from a low base. In Gränges’ operations in Finspång the share of sourced recycled aluminium decreased in 2020 due to lower production volumes as a result of impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Gränges’ operations in Americas, where more standardized alloy applications are produced that allow for wider composition limits, it is possible to reach a higher share of sourced recycled aluminium. These operations recirculate all volumes of recycled aluminium from its own processes and in 2020 further expanded sourcing of recycled aluminium from commodity traders and customers.
In total, Gränges increased the share of sourced recycled aluminium to 22.5 per cent (19.8) in 2020, which means that the 2025 target was achieved. The company works to raise its ambition and will define and disclose an upgraded target.