A “cradle to grave” cycle of an aluminium product system can be modelled using different process steps as outlined in the flowchart below. It should be noted that “grave” relates here to the end of life of the product, not of the material aluminium since it is being recycled.
• Bauxite mining: the mining of bauxite is the first step in aluminium production.
• Production of alumina: alumina, the raw material for primary aluminium production, is extracted from bauxite.
• Production of primary aluminium: primary aluminium is produced by electrolysis.
• Semi-fabrication: this encompasses several industrial processes: rolling, casting and extrusion.
• Product manufacture: aluminium is then formed into products.
• Use phase: the major outlets for aluminium products are in transport, building and construction, packaging and engineering.
• Recycling: all collected aluminium products are recycled and used again in further manufacture.