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Driving change

In 2020, European Aluminium was a leading actor in key EU policy areas, including trade, energy and climate, the circular economy and industrial strategy.

In this section, you can discover more about our advocacy activities. You can also learn about two major voluntary initiatives designed by our industry to shape the low-carbon economy in the decades to come: the Sustainability Roadmap and the Innovation Hub.

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DIGITAL ACTIVITY REPORT 2020-2021

Advocacy

Timeline
Trade

European Aluminium defends the aluminium industry through trade defence cases

With its first two anti-dumping cases ever on aluminium semi-fabricated products, European Aluminium, together with leading EU producers, is fighting back against unfair Chinese trade practices. In the case regarding extrusions, the European Commission’s preliminary findings support the conclusion that Chinese dumped products are indeed causing material injury to the European Union industry. With provisional measures already in place, the industry now awaits a final confirmation of the anti-dumping duties that will be in place for a minimum period of 5 years. In the case on flat rolled products, the industry is confident that the Commission’s services will come to the same conclusions regarding the injurious impact of Chinese products and hope for the implementation of duties capable of removing the effects of the unfair trade.

Brexit – tough negotiations on Rules of Origin for aluminium products

The exit of the UK from the European Union and its internal market undoubtedly represents one of the most impactful developments in the trade landscape for European companies. Through the negotiation of the new trade deal between the UK and the EU27 the new framework for the future relations between the two neighbouring partners has now become clear.  

An important aspect of this deal concerns the Rules of Origin that will define the conditions under which products can benefit from preferential trade between the two regions. Over the last months, in close cooperation with EU officials and British officials, European Aluminium assisted by providing market knowledge to achieve a compromise that will ensure a smooth transition for producers on both sides of the Channel, thereby allowing for flexibility in sourcing while limiting the inflow of raw material from third countries.

Energy & Climate

Our contribution to the European Green Deal & the EU’s Climate Ambition

Climate change and decarbonisation are top priorities of the European Commission under its Green Deal Agenda and the new EU Industrial Strategy. In 2020, the Von Der Leyen Commission presented several strategies announcing the policy and regulatory tools needed to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, including plans for strengthening the existing greenhouse gas(GHG) emission reduction targets by 2030, a Climate Law and a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism for those industries most exposed to carbon leakage.

In this context, our new Energy & Climate Committee led the industry’s positioning and advocacy work to feed into the legislative proposals presented in summer 2021. This also included the implementation and revision of the next phase of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), the ETS State Aid Guidelines, and the EU State Aid Guidelines for Environmental protection and Energy post-2020 (EEAG), the latter due by the end of 2021.

Our successful advocacy on the new ETS Guidelines and aluminium product benchmarks

European Aluminium’s Members, led by the State Aid Task Force and the Secretariat, successfully contributed to the revision of the post 2021 EU ETS State Aid Guidelines. As a result, the new Guidelines were released in November 2020 and Aluminium is today recognised as one of the sectors most exposed to carbon leakage, with new clauses to further limit costs for the most electro-intensive industries.   

The three-year campaign involved active engagement with EU Member States, Commission Services and extensive analysis - together with other electro-intensive sectors - of how the system could be improved. We also successfully contributed to the revision of the EU ETS benchmark values for 2021-2025.

These values will determine the amount of free allocation for the next trading period and we secured reasonable reduction rates, reflecting our industry’s decarbonisation performance over the last decade.

 

Climate & the Sustainable Finance Taxonomy

Because of its unique properties and crucial role in enabling the decarbonisation of our economy, aluminium is the only non-ferrous metal included among the sustainable manufacturing activities under the EU Taxonomy Regulation. However, the eligibility thresholds are currently under discussion by EU policy-makers in Brussels and we are working with our partners in the new EU Sustainable Finance Platform expert group to secure an achievable, yet ambitious, framework to secure green investments across our value chain.

 

For more information on our advocacy, visit the Energy & Climate section on our website.

Industrial Emissions Directive, a view from the top

Since the European Commission started evaluating the fitness of Directive 2010/75/EU on Industrial Emissions, European Aluminium has been working closely with them. A valued expert, we have been present in all Commission meetings and workshops and participated in all public and targeted consultations up until now.  

Looking to the future, the Industrial Emissions Directive will become a challenging piece of legislation to revise. At its inception, the Industrial Emissions Directive was a recast of seven existing Directives. Today, it is a modern piece of legislation that is eyed because of the particularities of the permitting process, that makes environmental legislation directly applicable without a transposition need.

The challenges ahead will be to keep the balance of a neutral approach towards determining Best Available Techniques (BAT), and ensuring that the associated Emission Limit Values are ambitious yet achievable from a techno-economic perspective.

Circular Economy

Circular Aluminium Action Plan

Aluminium is – by its nature – a circular material, as it can be repeatedly recycled without losing its original properties, thereby saving energy. It plays a leading role in shaping the circular economy and contributes to Europe’s objectives for strategic autonomy and its environmental ambitions as laid out in the Green Deal.

European Aluminium has adopted its Circular Aluminium Action Plan, which aims to ensure that all end-of-life aluminium products are collected and recycled efficiently in Europe to boost aluminium recycling rates and to keep the material in active use. The Aluminium Circular Action plan details the industry’s ambition to achieve full circularity for aluminium by 2030, as well as the legislative conditions required to make this happen in Europe.

Key outcomes are:

  • More than double the amount of post-consumer aluminium will be available for recycling by 2050, an increase from 3.6 million tonnes per year today to 8.6 million tonnes.
  • 50% of the demand for aluminium in Europe could be satisfied by post-consumer recycling, compared to 20% today.
  • Maximising the use of post-consumer aluminium scrap will significantly reduce the amount of imported carbon-intensive primary aluminium.
  • Recycling has the potential to contribute to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 39 million tonnes per year by 2050 (equivalent to a reduction of 46% of CO2).

 

Download the Executive Summary.

We presented our Action Plan to EU Commissioner Sinkevicius and his cabinet, as well as to the relevant services in DG GROW, ENV and CLIMA. We also joined several webinars, for example the SDG Summit organised by CSREurope, and organised an online event with the European Parliament Intergroup on Climate Change and Biodiversity, hosted by MEP Mari Spyraki, with the participation of DG ENV.

 

 

Find the Webinar here.

Advocacy on specific legislative files

The own-initiative report of the European Parliament and the position of the EU Council on the Action Plan offered opportunities to reach out to EU policy makers and pave the way for our advocacy. Such advocacy/support will be necessary in specific legislative files, namely the revision of the Waste Shipment Regulation, the End-of-Life Vehicle Directive and the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive planned for 2021 and 2022.

On waste shipment in particular, we are calling for the simplification of the Notification Procedure, an update of the European Waste Catalogue (missing green listed codes), a level playing field and equivalent conditions for exported waste, as well as increasing the size of the testing samples to facilitate innovation.

Lead Exemption under the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive 2002/95/EC

Another important dossier is the lead exemption under the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive 2002/95/EC. Aluminium produced from recycled scrap metal may contain lead. This is as a result of the unintentional and/or unavoidable release of lead content from scrap entering the recycling process and consequently transferring to the new cast alloys.

Allowing the use of lead-containing aluminium scrap at a reduced level provides the possibility for effective and efficient use of recycled aluminium scrap without posing any health or environmental risks. This will facilitate the natural reduction of lead-containing scrap on the market. European Aluminium applied for an extension of another five years to the current exemption under 6(b)-I for aluminium. We asked for the lead limit to be lowered to 0.3% by weight, a scope narrowed to casting alloys, and a clarification of the wording that lead-bearing aluminium scrap is the only source of the lead.

 

Visit the building, packaging and mobility sections of our report to learn more about our circular economy initiatives and advocacy work.

Industry Policy

Securing an industrial policy for the EU’s strategic autonomy

The new EU industrial strategy provides a framework for new, promising initiatives in line with the EU Green Deal's objectives, which are more crucial than ever under the current circumstances. The Covid-19 crisis has demonstrated how essential our industry is for the European “green recovery” as well as the need to take a value chain approach. After the crisis hit, we supported the idea that the EU should identify industrial sectors of European interest and we called for the inclusion of aluminium among the fourteen industrial ecosystems to strengthen the new industrial strategy. We have called on both the European Parliament and the European Commission to address citizens' expectations in their revised EU industrial strategy and the upcoming “Fit for 55 package” by focussing on incentivising circular, low-carbon, and strategic industries in Europe while protecting their global competitiveness and fighting carbon leakage.

We have therefore developed our Aluminium Agenda – our contribution to the mid-century strategy for a low carbon economy. This focuses on four main priorities: Establishing fair and free trade conditions; Addressing transition needs for carbon neutrality; Fostering circular business models; Investing in the future.

The economic transformation necessary to meet the bloc’s greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 55% must not come at the expense of a competitive European industry. We have, therefore, partnered with the European Parliament’s Intergroup on “Sustainable, Long-term Investments & Competitive European Industry”, and organised an event in January 2021, focussing on both the challenges and opportunities for the European aluminium industry stemming from the EU 2030 Targets Plan Communication, as well as the investment framework needed to compete on the global stage.

 

European Aluminium’s chair Emilio Bragi, moderator Frédéric Simon (Euractiv) and MEPs Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou and Maria da Graça Carvalho engage in a lively discussion during our webinar.

Critical Raw Materials

Our advocacy has also been driven by the tremendous challenge of securing the supply of critical raw materials necessary for the EU’s green and digital transitions, mostly sourced from other regions. We supported the creation of the European Raw Materials Alliance (ERMA) and joined as a partner. With the addition of bauxite in the list of EU’s critical raw materials and the new Critical Raw Materials Action Plan, Europe should be in a position to improve its resilience and industrial leadership and reduce its dependence on imports from China and other regions for its essential materials.

We also actively engaged with the European Parliament by meeting key MEPs in charge of drafting the Parliament’s position on the Commission’s new industrial strategy. This included proposals for amendments to the report to further protect and differentiate our value chain vis-à-vis other energy-intensive industries, as well as targeted European Parliamentary questions to the European Commission.  

 

 

Strategic Autonomy

The concept of strategic autonomy is fundamental in order for our industry to thrive in Europe.  In September 2020, we co-organised a successful webinar with the thinktank European Policy Centre on EU strategic autonomy, hosting both Marius Vaščega, Head of Cabinet for Commissioner Sinkevičius, and the MEP Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou, Vice-Chair of the INTA Committee.

We also continue to support the Industry4Europe coalition, which helps establish the long-term vision for the EU’s industrial and manufacturing strategy and we are also continuing to work closely with Eurometaux on the issue of raw materials and competitiveness. On this topic, we met with both EU Commissioners Maroš Šefčovič and Thierry Breton to discuss our challenges.  We also strengthened our relationship with DG GROW and applied for membership of the new EU Industrial Forum and the High-level Group on Energy-Intensive Industries.

#INDUSTRYPLUS

External Positioning

Allies & partnerships in and beyond Brussels

European Aluminium seeks a strong and ambitious EU industrial policy that addresses the competitiveness gap, promotes a global playing field on trade, environmental, health and safety standards and boosts market demand for the entire value chain. This is why we work with multiple allies. Thanks to our partnerships in Brussels and beyond, we are able to amplify our messaging and increase our political influence.

Allies include (but are not limited to):

Media Highlights

We regularly engage with the media in Brussels and beyond. Our messages were picked up by specialised trade, EU and international media throughout 2020.

In 2020, European Aluminium was quoted or referenced in over 175 online articles in top-tier and trade media on a number of topics.

Click on the publication logos to view some of our media highlights.

Innovation

Collaboration

Promoting innovation in the aluminium industry

Launched in 2015, the Innovation Hub brings together 15 European aluminium companies and two Market Groups. It aims to boost collaboration along the aluminium value chain, through collaborative projects and initiatives, and work towards sustainability. Building a proactive community of innovative companies across the value chain is its main objective, while at the same time triggering collaborative research projects that enhance the sector’s sustainability. In 2020, Aughinish Alumina joined the Innovation Hub and Alvance has also become a new member through its acquisition of the Aleris plant in Duffel, Belgium.

In 2020, the annual Innovation Workshop was - for the first time - held virtually. On 22 & 23 September, more than 90 attendees from research and technology organisations, institutions and the aluminium industry attended seven sessions covering topics on recycling, hydrogen and digitalisation as key enablers of the decarbonisation of the aluminium value chain.

The 25 presentations and discussions underlined the potential of aluminium to contribute to a more sustainable society.  The outcome of the Innovation Workshop will guide priority activities and topics addressed in 2021 to further support the European aluminium industry to be a key driver in achieving the EU’s ambitions for a climate-neutral and circular economy. 


EU Projects

Enabling EU projects and proposals for the aluminium industry

In 2020, the Innovation Hub facilitated and joined two new Horizon 2020 projects:

  • CORALIS, launched in October 2020, seeks to demonstrate applicable solutions for industrial symbiosis aiming at energy and resource savings, in the framework of sustainability and a circular economy. The main objective of CORALIS is to create pathways for the decarbonisation of resource and energy-intensive sector value chains. It aims to do this through the implementation of viable industrial symbiosis approaches, combining new business and management strategies with innovative technology-based enablers. This ambitious concept will be framed by demonstrations in real industrial areas covering different sectors, geographical regions, and resources, thus improving the knowledge basis and laying the foundations for exploiting the potential of Industrial Symbiosis in EU process industry. (CORALIS has received EU funding under grant agreement No 958337)
  • ReActiv, launched in November 2020, aims to develop a new sustainable symbiotic value chain, transforming bauxite residue into a by-product directly usable by the cement industry to produce high-end cement products with a low-CO2 This project is coordinated by the world’s biggest cement company, LafargeHolcim, regrouping six members of the Innovation Hub and complements the ongoing project RemovAl, which has been running since 2018 and is focused on converting bauxite residues and spent pot linings into resources. (ReActiv has received EU funding under grant agreement No 958208)

 

In 2020, the Innovation Hub was active in four EU Horizon 2020 projects and facilitated one collaborative project directly financed by four members: the FORMALUB project, started in 2019,  which aims to better understand and predict the formability of Aluminium Body Sheet (ABS). In the same year, the Innovation Hub joined the EU H2020 project AlSiCal which aims to produce alumina, silica and precipitated calcium carbonate, using a new production route from mineral resources, abundantly available worldwide. To contribute to these four EU projects, the Innovation Hub has hired a new innovation project officer, fully financed through EU funding, who started on 1 Jan 2021.

In 2021, communication about the flagship project RemovAL (2018-2022) will be intensified through the organisation of an online clustering workshop in September for presenting key RemovAL results as well as other EU projects. In addition, two new Horizon 2020 projects will start: SALEMA (Substitution of Critical Raw Materials, i.e. Mg & Si, on Aluminium Alloys for electrical vehicles) and METABUILDING LABS (Open Innovation Test Bed for the building of the envelope materials industrial sector). The Innovation Hub contribution to these projects will be carried out in close cooperation with the Market Groups, “Automotive & Transport” and “Building”.

Communications

Reinforcing communication, skills and collaborative platforms

The Innovation Hub is actively engaged with several Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), e.g. SPIRE, Factories of the Future and Energy Efficient Buildings. It also participates in the EU’s research agenda and priorities and contributes to the definition of Horizon Europe calls and strategic discussions, mainly Roadmaps and Hubs for circularity.

Through the Virtual Innovation Workshop, the Innovation Hub closely collaborated with CEA – Tech, IME Aachen in order to boost innovation for European industries.

The Innovation Hub is a partner of the SAIS -SPIRE Erasmus+ project, addressing the skills needed in the processing industry to further boost circularity and industrial symbiosis. In partnership with MATPLUS, the aluSELECT database has recently been redeveloped, including updated information on the characteristics and properties of 35 wrought aluminium alloys and 12 cast alloys. This comprehensive and user-friendly platform helps users select the best alloy and temper, based on the specific requested application.

Due to its commitment to innovation and sustainability, the Hub will continue to keep communication channels with the European research community open in order to broaden and deepen the Innovation Hub’s network and activities. To this end, Christian Leroy (Innovation Hub Leader) presented “Turning bauxite residue into resources within a moving EU policy context” at the 3rd International Bauxite Residue Valorisation and Best Practices Conference, which took place online between 29 September – 1 October 2020.

The Innovation Hub regularly informs its members about its activities through a dedicated newsletter highlighting examples of innovation from its members, and reporting news on related projects, events and proposals (subscribe here).

Sustainability

Mid-term review of our Sustainability Roadmap Towards 2025

In 2020 we began preparing the mid-term review of the European Aluminium Sustainability Roadmap, launched in 2015. The Roadmap set voluntary targets for sustainable production processes and products, as well as challenging the European aluminium industry to measure and improve in relation to the social 1 pillar of sustainability, by 2025.

The mid-term review aims to reconsider both the targets and the planned actions in the light of the dynamic evolution of the political, industrial and social context, and to fine tune the plan and better align the efforts with the sustainability objectives set out in the EU Green Deal. This is particularly relevant in the areas of decarbonisation of the industrial processes and the journey towards a circular economy, where the aluminium industry can play a crucial role.

1This pillar is predominantly focussed on employee-related commitments and broader societal engagement. For example, by maintaining a regular collection and distribution of health and safety statistics, including leading indicators and areas for improvement.

 

 

 

Partners for change

With the economic recovery and the focus on the twin digital and green transition, it is extremely important to take a longer-term view of sustainability planning, aligned with the EU Green Deal and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

This is why we are active partners in external platforms such as the EU Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform, and took part in the EU SDG Summit 2020, organised by CSREurope under the auspices of the EU Commission. In this context we participated in two roundtables, one on the circular economy and the other the sectorial sustainability roadmaps, presenting our activities and discussing experiences with other sectors, from chemicals and textiles to the food industry.

Responsible sourcing toolkit

One example of the implementation of actions from the Sustainability Roadmap is the launch of a “responsible sourcing toolkit”. This tool was developed in cooperation with the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) and defines a set of core criteria to apply, regardless of the chosen reporting standard, when sourcing raw materials from anywhere in the world, from bauxite to ingots, aluminium scrap and alloying elements. The toolkit covers environmental, economic and social aspects and includes practical step-by-step guidelines and a template for a code of conduct. The objective is to simplify the adoption of responsible sourcing policies across the member companies, targeting in particular Small and Medium Enterprises.

 

Photo: Roberto Ribeiro/Hydro

Launch of the Safety Platform

The Sustainability Roadmap focuses heavily on the industry’s responsibility to society, and how this can be fulfilled both by adapting internal practices within aluminium companies and  addressing the external impact of the industry operations and products on the environment, economy and society. In this respect, safety in the workplace is an extremely important topic, whose strategic approach needs to be constantly adapted to the developments in production processes and technology, including automation and digitalisation.

In order to support members in the prevention of accidents at work, an important step was the launch of the Safety Platform. This online tool is open to the whole membership for the exchange of best practice and accident reports in key safety areas, with a special focus on the prevention of fatality and serious incidents. Users of the platform can browse the archive, upload material and interact with other users on process improvements, safety solutions, accident reports and statistics, technological solutions and more.

 

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Market overview
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Aluminium at work