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Aluminium recycling in India: the best is yet to come

India – India’s demand for secondary aluminium will increase by 8-10% per year, mainly boosted by the country’s rapidly-growing automotive industry, according to Akshay Agarwal. The Executive Director of Century Metal Recycling, a major producer of aluminium and zinc die-casting alloys and India’s largest aluminium scrap importer, told delegates at the BIR World Recycling Convention in New Delhi: ‘This growing scrap appetite will be met primarily by increased aluminium scrap imports.’

Secondary aluminium accounts for 30% of India’s overall aluminium consumption of 3.3 million tonnes per year. In the past six years, secondary aluminium demand has almost doubled to 1.1 million tonnes, of which some 90% is imported. By 2021, demand is expected to reach 1.5 million tonnes.

In 2016, some 120,000 tonnes of aluminium scrap was generated in India, with the automotive and power segments together accounting for 75% of the total.

India’s domestic scrap market may be fast-growing but still has a long way to go, believes Agarwal. ‘There is largely unorganised scrap collection and insufficient awareness, leading to a major proportion of scrap going to landfill rather than recycling,’ he told his audience.

On the positive note, new initiatives are underway to boost recycling – including the first car dismantling and depollution facility which is scheduled to be running before the end of this year, to be followed by the country’s first car shredder. These were described by Agarwal as ‘baby steps to a future where you may abort scrap import dependency’.

And he emphasised that, although India’s domestic scrap industry is trying hard to modernise, this can be achieved only with regulatory support.

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