The European Green Deal, unveiled in December 2019, is a package of policy initiatives designed to make the EU climate neutral by 2050. It is a cross-sectoral approach in which all policy areas contribute to the overarching climate goal.
The “Fit for 55” package translates the goals of the Green Deal into concrete legal acts. This will involve updating existing climate, energy and transport legislation and introducing new legislative initiatives. “Fit for 55” refers to the EU’s interim target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030.
The “Fit for 55” package currently includes proposals and initiatives on emissions trading schemes, member state emissions reduction targets, energy efficiency, CO₂ emissions from cars, energy taxation and a CO₂ border adjustment system, among others.
The goals pursued by the EU and EU member states to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 and interim targets by 2030 have a significant impact on the aluminum industry:
– The expansion of electromobility will lead to the decommissioning of around 100 million vehicles with diesel or gasoline engines in the EU by 2035 (ban on placing vehicles with combustion engines on the market), a large proportion of which will have engine blocks made of cast aluminum. There is limited potential demand for this material in other sectors due to its material quality and an outflow of material to non-EU countries is expected.
– The automotive industry will significantly expand its demand for wrought aluminum alloys for profiles and other components in the course of the expansion of electromobility and lightweight construction, possibly using its sectoral market power to the detriment of the construction sector.
– The construction sector must ensure a secure and sustainable supply of materials at an early stage for the period up to 2030 and beyond. This is conceivable or possible through an obligation to create closed-loop systems. A statutory solution currently appears unrealistic. Only a voluntary industry solution can be considered.
– Companies in the aluminum industry must make efforts to increase the proportion of closed-loop material to up to 100 percent in order to counteract future supply bottlenecks.
– Market expectations for the exclusive supply of secondary metal must be answered realistically.
The integration of recycled material is a key focus in the development of new materials. Today, aluminum alloys are not only required to have properties such as strength, corrosion resistance or conductivity. The CO₂ footprint is equally relevant. Recycled materials alone will not be able to secure the demand for aluminum in the foreseeable future.
The aluminum circular economy should therefore be further developed as part of a holistic view of raw material supply. In the future, it will be equally important to manufacture products in such a way that, at the end of their service life, they are available again in as many cycles as possible without loss of quality in conjunction with the available technologies.
Text: Alwin Schmitt