Alunorf builds third recycling furnace

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Recycling is the number one topic of the future in the aluminium industry.

The more recycling material is used, the more energy-efficient and CO2-reduced is the product. As the largest aluminium melting and rolling mill in the world, Alunorf is taking a major step forward by adding a third recycling furnace to its recycling centre.

“By investing in the new recycling furnace, our owners Speira and Novelis have sent an important signal for the long-term viability of Alunorf. This strengthens our path towards sustainable aluminium production here at the site,” says Oliver Hommel, commercial managing director of Alunorf. The €18m  furnace is scheduled to go into operation in mid-2023. Then a total of 150,000 tpy of painted and lacquered production scrap will be processed at the Norf plant and used for new rolling slabs.

Aluminium is infinitely recyclable – with only minor losses. At the same time, 95 % less energy is required when using recycled material compared to newly mined aluminium (primary aluminium). Thanks to these properties, aluminium is more attractive for the circular economy than almost any other material. In Germany, over 90 % of aluminium packaging is already recycled.

Alunorf plays a crucial role in this cycle: every second beverage can in Europe comes from material rolled in Norf. But Norf’s aluminium is also a basic material for other important products – such as lightweight car body parts and battery foils or components for wind turbines and photovoltaic systems, all essential for the mobility and energy transition.

“As the world’s largest producers of aluminium strip, we believe we have a responsibility to lead the way and produce aluminium in the most resource-efficient way possible,” says Michael Waelchli, technical managing director of Alunorf.

"Recycling one of the strongest levers for more sustainability”

“Recycling is one of the strongest levers for more sustainability. The more recycled material we use, the more environmentally friendly our product is. More than 90 % of Alunorf’s carbon footprint depends on the composition of the purchased metals that are rolled at Alunorf. Where we can influence the use of metals ourselves, we are working flat out to expand recycling,” continues Wälchli.

The third recycling furnace is an important step in this direction. It will allow around 50 % more recycled scrap to be fed into the casting process. In terms of the entire value chain, this will save up to 415,000 tpy of CO2.

Recycling furnace 3 comes along with other major initiatives at Alunorf such as the BIS (Batch Intelligence System) investment. This, so far unique, logistics and charging system, which is already under construction in Norf, is supported by the German Environment Ministry and is also making a major contribution to using more recycled material.

 CO2 footprint a core objective in corporate strategy

Investment in recycling is just one part of the measures to reduce CO2 emissions. For example, Alunorf has created a dedicated technical department to tackle the technological challenge to reduce its ecological footprint. Among other things, the company is examining new ways of supplying energy and – in close cooperation with equipment manufacturers, universities and research institutes – is working out alternatives to natural gas as an energy source for furnaces.

"We will continue to noticeably reduce our carbon footprint – and have also anchored this as a core objective in our corporate strategy. By 2026, we want to emit up to 30 % less CO2 than in 2015”, says Wälchli. In accordance with the Paris Agreement Alunorf targets CO2 neutrality latest by 2050.

About Aluminium Norf GmbH

With a capacity of over 1.5m tpy, Aluminium Norf GmbH (Alunorf) is the largest aluminium rolling and melting plant in the world. Over 2,300 employees make Alunorf one of the largest employers in the region. The company is a joint venture of Speira GmbH and Novelis Deutschland GmbH and produces exclusively for its partners, who process the input material at their sites around the world.

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