The Aluminum Association

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The Aluminum Association
Type 501(c)(6) non-profit organization
Industry Aluminum production
Aluminum fabrication
Aluminum recycling
Headquarters Arlington, Virginia, U.S.
Key people Heidi Brock, President
Employees 16

The Aluminum Association is a trade association for the aluminum production, fabrication and recycling industries, and their suppliers.[1] The Association is a 501(c)(6) non-profit organization based in Arlington, Virginia, United States.[2][3][4] (The Association was based in Washington, D.C. until c. 2005.[5])

Pursuant to seven ANSI H35 standards, The Aluminum Association registers and publishes specifications describing the composition, mechanical properties and nomenclature of aluminum alloys in the United States.[6] These alloys are identified by the abbreviation "AA", for example AA 6061-T6.

Mission, vision, and goals[edit]

The Aluminum Association works globally to promote aluminum as the most sustainable and recyclable automotive, packaging, and construction material in today’s market. The Association provides leadership to the industry through its programs and services and assists in achieving the industry's environmental, societal, and economic objectives. Member companies operate more than 200 plants in the United States, with many conducting business worldwide.[citation needed]


In 1933, Congress passed the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA), a New Deal measure requesting each industry to establish codes and guidelines of fair competition.

Representatives of 13 aluminum companies met in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to set up these codes and formed the Association of Manufacturers in the Aluminum Industry. Members of the Association included the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) (Arthur Vining Davis), Reynolds Metals Company (Walter Hunt), and United Smelting & Aluminum (Milton Rosenthal).

After the Act was repealed in May 1934, these industry leaders convened a special meeting in June, ultimately deciding to continue the Association of Manufacturers in the Aluminum Industry on a reorganized basis.

The Association was reorganized and renamed "The Aluminum Association," and its first official meeting was held in October 1935 in New York. The Association defined its purpose as promoting the general welfare of the aluminum industry and its members.

Through the end of the 1930s, the Association would focus on expanding the uses of aluminum. Its first formal program in market expansion was a technical report called, “Corrosion Resistance of Aluminum Cylinder Heads,” which was distributed to engineers, automobile dealers, and repair shops.

With the onset of World War II, and aluminum's designation as a strategic material, the Association would serve as a central conduit for information relating to aluminum’s use in the war effort—disseminating government material, representing the industry on government boards, and providing statistical information to the industry and the general public.

During the course of the war, the aluminum industry would design and build 52 new aluminum production and fabrication plants for the U.S. government and add on to 37 existing plants. After the war, the government-owned aluminum plants were offered to bidders under the Surplus Property Act of 1944.

Post-war Growth[edit]

The sale of these plants would help create Kaiser Aluminum and expand the operations of Reynolds Aluminum. Both companies joined Alcoa as major primary aluminum producers.

After the war, the Association, now with three principal divisions—sheet, extrusion, and foundry—represented 36 companies, including all three primary producers and companies whose output represented 85 percent of the total amount of the nation's aluminum fabricated products.

By the late 1940s, the Aluminum Association would recommence fulfilling its original purpose to promote the general welfare of the industry. In doing so, it instituted a number of projects, including:

  • Redirecting the efforts of the Publicity Committee, formed during the war, toward publicizing aluminum on behalf of the industry
  • Initiating a program of standardization of aluminum specifications
  • Creating the Foil Division
  • Forming the Building Industry Committee to effect the change of the material-specified codes to performance codes—and eventually to standardize the codes across the country
  • Production (in 1959) of the Aluminum Construction Manual, precursor to the current Aluminum Design Manual.

The 1950s were a period of great expansion for the aluminum industry in the building, transportation, household products, electrical, and packaging markets. The public relations program of the time promoted aluminum as “The Modern Metal for Modern Uses.”

As the demand for technical data on aluminum grew, the Technical Committee was created. In the mid-50s this committee produced the precursor to the Aluminum Standards and Data.

A promotional symbol—the "Mark of Aluminum"—was developed by the Public Relations Committee in the early 1960s. The marks, which proclaimed aluminum as variously "lightweight," "durable," "versatile," and "rust-free," would appear on thousands of consumer products to proclaim the special attributes of aluminum.

Environmental and Energy Initiatives[edit]

The early 1970s saw the rise of the environmental movement. The industry would become heavily involved in establishing the nation's aluminum can recycling infrastructure. The Association also established new committees in energy and recycling.

In 1977, the Association would move its headquarters from New York to Washington, D.C. The Government Relations Committee formed that same year.

By the end of the decade, the Association would announce that the aluminum industry had met and surpassed its energy conservation goal almost two years ahead of schedule. The industry had reduced the amount of energy required to make a pound of aluminum by 10.77 percent compared with the base year of 1972.

As the 20th century came to a close, the Association and its members would take an increasingly active and leading role in pursuing energy efficiency and emission reductions in our primary operations. The Voluntary Aluminum Industrial Partnership,(VAIP) launched in 1995 between the Environmental Protection Agency and the aluminum industry, has since succeeded in achieving dramatic reductions in perfluorocarbon (PFCs) gas emissions. The VAIP represented 18 of the 19 American aluminum smelters and represented 98% of total aluminum smelting in the U.S. The program reduced PFC emission by 77% over 14 years. In 2002, the Environmental Protection Agency awarded its Climate Change Award to the Aluminum Association for this program.

The Aluminum Association today carries out its role in promoting aluminum via a diverse set of activities: developing technical standards and data, collecting and publishing industry statistics, promoting plant safety and health, and monitoring and promoting technological developments that advance the metal's use across a range of applications.


United States' aluminum industry standards, which are voluntary, have been developed and continue to evolve to meet the need for a communication system to facilitate aluminum commerce.

The structure for this communication system is defined by a group of six American National Standards, which include the authorization for The Aluminum Association to administer the registration of chemical composition limits and mechanical properties of cast and wrought aluminum alloys, with the accompanying assignment of alloy and temper designations.

The ANS H35 standards are developed under approval by the Accredited Standards Committee H35 - Aluminum and Aluminum Alloys, which is an ANSI accredited standards committee. Aluminum Association (AA) standards are promulgated by the Technical Committee on Product Standards.

In addition to registering alloy compositions and designations, the TCPS also registers alloy-temper product standards. Most industry product standards for aluminum mill products are published in Aluminum Standards and Data, available in both customary and metric editions. Similarly, the Association publishes the Standards for Aluminum Sand and Permanent Mold Castings, which provides engineering and metallurgical standards for casting alloys in metric and U.S. units of measurements.

Aluminum Association designations and product standards information are used throughout all facets of aluminum commerce, as well as in other organizations’ codes and standards. Aluminum alloy and temper designations, chemical composition limits and registered properties in North America all originate from the above system of ANSI and AA standards. These standards are also the basis for several international agreements for the worldwide producer registration of wrought alloys, unalloyed aluminum, and aluminum hardeners (aluminum alloy materials and grain refiners).

Public Policy[edit]

  • Climate Change
    • The aluminum industry recognizes that climate change presents a challenge that requires cooperative action on a global basis, and promotes international participation.
    • Climate policies should recognize the benefits of recycling toward GHG emissions reduction. After the initial energy investment in primary aluminum production, the recycling of aluminum saves 95 percent of energy and greenhouse gas emissions. The industry’s complementary primary and reclamation system thereby reduces the overall energy consumption in total U.S. aluminum production by approximately 46 percent, and reduces GHGs by approximately 38 percent. The industry sees opportunity for further reduction and supports policy that provides incentives for recycling.
    • The industry supports efficient and economically sound emissions trading programs and registries that recognize early emissions reductions. It supports an economy-wide, fair-market-driven approach that may include a cap and trade program that limits GHG emissions. The approach should result in market incentives that stimulate investment and innovation in technologies necessary to grow while achieving environmental reduction targets.
    • To reduce potential negative impacts on the U.S. manufacturing sector, which by 2005 had already reduced total GHG emissions below 1990 levels, provision should be made in any GHG program to reduce the expected negative impacts of energy cost increases such as through corporate tax credits.
    • The industry participates in and recommends public/private partnerships to spur pre-competitive research to reduce greenhouse gas process emissions and to promote energy saving aluminum product applications.
    • The industry supports a responsible approach to growth in demand for its products and the consequent growth in activity and related emissions, noting that solutions to the climate change issue involve both reducing emissions at the source, and also over the full life cycle of the material or products.
  • Energy Policy
    • Energy represents about one-third of the total production cost of primary aluminum. Electricity is an essential ingredient in primary aluminum production. These factors together make energy efficiency and energy management prime objectives for the industry. While the industry is a large consumer of both natural gas and electricity, the annual expenditure for electricity by the aluminum industry is more than $2 billion.
    • Since the 1970s, manufacturing energy consumption has grown at twice the rate of domestic energy production. This gap between energy use and production will continue to adversely affect manufacturing if the country does not resolve national energy policy with a comprehensive U.S. energy strategy that enhances supply, improves infrastructure, and increases efficiency, without compromising environmental safeguards or imposing efficiency mandates.
    • The Aluminum Association supports the principles of electricity consumer choice and open access transmission, applied uniformly in the U.S. through a national system. However the industry does not support proposals for total federal pre-emption in all areas related to deregulation and restructuring. The Aluminum Association supports the establishment of a system that recognizes some inherent regional advantages in the cost of electricity. Consumer-choice legislation should not be tied to excessive taxing of electricity consumers to fund public benefits or a national mandatory Standard Market Design.
    • With artificial-market disadvantages, it may be impossible to operate or restore primary smelting capacity in the Northwest U.S., and other regional aluminum plants will be subject to similar concerns. The recommended approach is to provide short-term policies to help the industry survive the transition to a rational market situation, and provide long-term policies to restore supply-demand balance in electricity markets.
    • Certainty of an affordable energy supply is essential to capital investment in the manufacturing sectors that provide high-paying jobs. Putting the U.S. on the path to a reliable and affordable supply of domestic energy is essential to this country's short-term economic rebound and future long-term growth prospects. All supply options should be considered to contribute to a diverse and robust supply of energy
  • Trade Position
    • The members of the Aluminum Association are fully committed to a fair and open world market for aluminum.
    • The Aluminum Association strongly supports the initiation of global trade negotiations in the World Trade Organization (WTO).
    • The Association supports a comprehensive approach to the phased-in reduction and elimination of tariffs over a multi-year period, not to exceed 10 years.
    • The free flow of aluminum products on a global scale is vital to the future success of the U.S. aluminum industry.
  • Partnership With Department of Energy (DOE)


Lifecycle Considerations

The U.S. aluminum industry strives to maximize energy efficiency and minimize emissions from its upstream and downstream plant operations.

  • According to the International Aluminium Institute, the average energy consumption per ton of aluminum production has fallen worldwide by 70 percent over the past century. A century ago, primary smelters took roughly 28,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) to produce a metric ton of aluminum from alumina. Today’s state-of-the-art smelters use 13,000 kWh to produce the same amount of aluminum.
  • Since 1995, U.S. primary aluminum producers have reduced perfluorocarbon emissions over 70 percent under the Voluntary Aluminum Industry Partnership. Partners have achieve reductions by reducing the frequency and duration of anode effects via a mix of management and technological changes, employing the best options on a smelter-by-smelter basis. U.S. aluminum producers have exceeded the DOE’s Climate Vision emission-reduction targets, reducing direct smelting emissions over 25 percent.

Product Life

Much of aluminum’s contribution to reducing emissions, fuel use, and energy consumption comes during a product’s lifespan, particularly in aluminum’s largest end market: automotive and transportation. Aluminum’s light weight, combined with its durability, can result in dramatic energy and emissions savings.

Studies recently undertaken by the International Aluminium Institute show just how dramatic those savings can be. Among their findings:

  • A doubling of the aluminum tonnage in cars worldwide between 2000 and 2010 will curb greenhouse gas emissions by 180 metric tons annually.
  • The use of one pound of aluminum in place of 1.5 lbs. of steel in a typical bus or truck application reduces greenhouse gas emissions by almost 90 lbs over the lifetime of the bus or truck.
  • Use of one pound of aluminum in place of 1.6 lbs. of steel in a typical railway car reduces greenhouse gas emissions by almost 450 lbs. over the railcar’s lifetime.
  • Global use of aluminum in the automotive sector increased from 5.5 billion lbs. in 1991 (source: IAI) to 12 billion pounds in 2006 (source: Ducker Worldwide).
  • Assuming that 12 billion lbs. of aluminum is used to replace denser materials, the potential savings in greenhouse gas emissions over the lifetimes of those vehicles would be approximately 240 billion lbs.

So great is the potential for emissions savings from aluminum’s use in the automotive and transportation industries that Alcoa, among others, has forecast that the aluminum industry is well on pace to become “greenhouse gas neutral” in the next decade. That is, the global warming impacts of aluminum production will be fully offset by the amount of carbon-dioxide saved by its use in the transportation industry.

Aluminum Association Sustainability Initiative

The Aluminum Association's Sustainability Initiative, launched in April 2008, promotes increased recycling, energy-efficient product applications, and increased operating efficiency.

Among the projects that will form the basis of the initiative are:

  • Expanding the Curbside Value Partnership [7] which the aluminum industry is partnered with the paper, glass, plastic, and steel industries to increase curbside recycling participation and collections. As of January 2011, Curbside Value Partnership became an independent 501(c)3 with a five member Board of Directors and continues to grow.
  • World Aluminum Automotive Sustainability—In partnership with the IAI and the European Aluminium Association, the Aluminum Association will demonstrate that aluminum automotive applications can lead to potential savings of 140 million tons of carbon-dioxide-equivalent emissions and energy savings equal to 55 billion liters of crude oil over the lifecycle of such vehicles.

Sustainable Technologies

Through participation in such partnerships as the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Industrial Technologies Program, the U.S. aluminum industry works to increase energy efficiency and lower emissions associated with the aluminum production process.

Promising new technologies include:

  • Researchers at the DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory and NorandaFalconbridge are developing a way to produce aluminum at significantly reduced temperatures. Specifically, researchers are modifying the cell electrolyte to operate at lower temperatures—which could eventually permit the use of an inert anode.
  • The ITP—working with Aleris Inc., among others—has supported the development of a radically new concept for melting aluminum—isothermal melting—that can dramatically improve energy efficiency in melting and other molten metal processes.
  • Alcoa has launched a carbon capture technology at its Kwinana alumina refinery in Western Australia. The system mixes bauxite residue with carbon-dioxide to lock up large volumes of carbon dioxide that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere.

International Partnerships

The aluminum industry continues to move forward on both the national and international fronts to advance sustainability efforts.

In July 2005, the U.S. entered into an agreement known as the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate—or “AP6”—with Australia, India, China, Japan, and South Korea (Canada has since also joined). Together these countries—and their energy-intensive industries, such as aluminum—are working to develop and deploy more efficient technologies and to meet national pollution-reduction, energy-security, and climate-change concerns.

The Aluminum Task Force, co-chaired by the U.S., is developing realistic work plans and identifying aluminum-specific projects that will be carried out to help achieve the partnership’s goals. Among those goals are to realize a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the seven countries by 2050 compared with current projections if no action were taken.


  1. ^ "MissionStatement", The Aluminum Association website (Arlington, VA, U.S.A.), 2008, retrieved 2009-08-10, "The Aluminum Association, based in Arlington, Virginia, works globally to aggressively promote aluminum as the most sustainable and recyclable automotive, packaging and construction material in today’s market." 
  2. ^ Williams, Carol A. (2006-08-07), "Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax: The Aluminum Association, Inc., 2005" (PDF), Foundation Center 990 Finder website, retrieved 2009-08-10 
  3. ^ Bowden, Karen (2007-08-17), "Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax: The Aluminum Association, Inc., 2006" (PDF), Foundation Center 990 Finder website, retrieved 2009-08-10 
  4. ^ Larkin, J. Stephen (2008-08-13), "Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax: The Aluminum Association, Inc., 2007" (PDF), Foundation Center 990 Finder website, retrieved 2009-08-10 
  5. ^ Williams, Carol A. (2005-05-23), "Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax: The Aluminum Association, Inc., 2004" (PDF), Foundation Center 990 Finder website, retrieved 2009-08-10 
  6. ^ "Industry Standards", The Aluminum Association website (Arlington, VA, U.S.A.), 2008, retrieved 2009-08-10, "The structure for this communication system is defined by seven American National Standards Institute (ANSI) H35 Standards, some of which authorize The Aluminum Association to administer the registration of chemical composition limits and mechanical properties, with accompanying assignment of alloy and temper designations." 
  7. ^—under

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