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Aluminium Industry Trend & Analysis, Technology Review, Event Rundown and Much More …

Aluminium Industry Trend & Analysis, Technology Review, Event Rundown and Much More …

AL Circle

Indian aluminium is on a relentless mission to make the environment cleaner

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The growing environmental concerns are pushing government and big corporate houses alike to take planned steps towards sustainability. However, the efforts must not stop at planning but should be executed, monitored, and evaluated.

Among various industries, the Indian aluminium industry is striving hard to make a cleaner environment, and with aluminium’s new nickname as the ‘Green Metal’, the goal seems achievable. Besides the natural qualities of aluminium that make it a manufacturer’s favourite, aluminium is also extremely environmentally friendly and saves up to 95 per cent energy during recycling.

Despite the benefits of aluminium, grey clouds of concern loom over sustainability and environmental causes in the aluminium industry. Production of aluminium from bauxite is heavy on the pockets and the environment. There have been efforts to reduce the carbon footprint, and the four major players in the Indian aluminium industry- HINDALCO, NALCO, Vedanta Aluminium, and BALCO (a part of Vedanta Limited) are leading the way.

How can aluminium production become sustainable?

One of the ways aluminium production is made sustainable is through low-carbon aluminium. According to the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative, there is no formal definition of low-carbon primary aluminium yet. However, a carbon footprint of less than 4 CO2e/t Al is referred to as low-carbon aluminium. Due to the reduced carbon foot, this type of aluminium is gaining popularity among manufacturers.

Another way to make low-carbon aluminium is by using renewable energies like solar power to produce aluminium. This technique is currently being practised in the Middle East. Indian aluminium manufacturers are also introducing new product lines of low-carbon aluminium and making changes in production techniques to sustainably meet the need for low-carbon aluminium.

Efforts of primary aluminium makers in India towards a cleaner environment:

Earlier in 2022, Vedanta Aluminium, India’s largest aluminium producer, launched two products, Restora and Restora Ultra. Restora is unique as it is India’s first primary aluminium to be produced using renewable energy. Vedanta Aluminium aims to target the proliferating global demand for low-carbon aluminium with Restora.

The second product line Restora Ultra, being produced in collaboration with Runaya Refining, is said to have a lower carbon footprint, the lowest in the world. Under this product line, Vedanta offers aluminium recovered from dross (a by-product of the aluminium smelting process), which is then cast into premium-grade products. Restora Ultra is ultra-low-carbon aluminium that aligns with the company’s goals of zero-waste operation.

Runaya Refining is one of India’s fast-growing manufacturing start-ups that creates innovative solutions for the resources sector. It leverages patented technology licensed from TAHA International S.A. to process dross at Vedanta’s facilities.

Hindalco Industries, India’s leading aluminium producer, has begun generating electricity from a 25-MW solar plant in Singrauli, Madhya Pradesh. This plant is in addition to its existing captive power plant (CPP) at Mahan. The solar plant is projected to generate 550 million units of electricity that would reduce the consumption of coal (currently 35,000 tonnes) and bring down carbon emissions by 52,000 tonnes. Hindalco has plans to increase the power generation capacity of the plant in the upcoming years. This power will be used for internal needs and aluminium production, making the metal more environmentally sustainable.

Another iconic aluminium producer in India, BALCO (Bharat Aluminium Company), is dedicated to energy and environmental conservation. As reported by India CSR, BALCO has reduced its specific water consumption levels by 170 per cent as compared to the previous levels. Additionally, it also cut down on its specific energy consumption levels and bagged the ‘CII Energy Efficiency Awards’ in 2020.

The company is leveraging the latest technologies to reduce its carbon footprint. It has reduced the energy consumption in ‘potline 1’ in its Chhattisgarh smelter and brought it to par with global standards, which is 12,862 kWh/t.

The leaders of the Indian aluminium industry are transforming the sector through sustainable yet profitable measures. However, another sector that may play a very important role in environmental conservation during aluminium production is the aluminium recycling industry.

Aluminium recycling in India:

Recycling is a critical activity in the aluminium industry due to its cost implications and ability to extract molten aluminium with more purity. The metal has immense recyclability capabilities, and the high value of aluminium scrap is a key incentive and major economic impetus for recycling. When recycled, each tonne of aluminium saves energy equal to 24 barrels of crude oil, over 15 tonnes of fresh or seawater usage, more than 9 tonnes of greenhouse emissions, and 2.5 tonnes of solid waste.

A report by The Aluminium Association indicates that recycling aluminium uses only 5 per cent of the energy required to produce new aluminium. Therefore, recycling aluminium saves energy, reduces carbon emissions, and saves the manufacturers’ and consumers’ money. Furthermore, it says that 75 per cent of the aluminium made to date is still in use due to recycling and reusing.

India has immense aluminium recycling potential. According to a report published in 2017, out of 3.3 million tonnes of aluminium consumed in India every year, 30 per cent is secondary aluminium. But still, the aluminium recycling industry is not developed, with a large portion of scrap going to waste or landfill rather than being recycled.

That report was not the only one to make such claims. In a recent 2022 report, the aluminium recycling rate is only 25 per cent, and the recycling industry is still unorganised. The dearth of a legal support system and a stringent protectionist environment are holding back the aluminium recycling industry. Nevertheless, the major challenge is still the lack of awareness among recyclers.

The technical barriers to aluminium recycling include the lack of high-class pieces of machinery such as dismantlers, scrap processors, re-melters, and re-converters. Additionally, there are no proper methods of scrap collection, and that is hindering the growth of the aluminium recycling sector.

Currently, India’s goal is to recycle 100 per cent of the aluminium produced and consumed by 2025. However, to achieve it, the country must invest in research and development that can help the cause. However, the good news is that as the modern economy of India is shaping up, a full-blown recycling sector will come to life, thanks to aluminium recycling.


There is no doubt that India has a long way to go before it can fully utilise its potential and make a difference for the environment, at least through the aluminium industry. Nevertheless, large corporations are taking action towards creating a sustainable future that paves the way for MSMEs and soon, the unorganised sector will turn around for good.

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