Because it’s so common in our everyday lives, it’s easy to overlook aluminum. Everyone is familiar with the ubiquitous soda and beer can or kitchen foil, but aluminum is also used to create materials for building construction, aircraft, automobiles and even cellphones and tablet computers.
And a lot of that metal is made right here. In fact, the industry represents approximately $75 billion in direct economic impact in the United States and more than $3.1 billion in Tennessee.
Virtually alone among the basic material sectors of the world, aluminum is experiencing a once-in-a-generation expansion in projected demand as firms move to engineered aluminum solutions, from fuel-efficient vehicles to green buildings.
Demand in North America alone is up nearly 40 percent since 2009, and U.S. firms have invested or committed to invest some $2.6 billion in domestic plant expansions. American aluminum producers have room to grow, but only if the playing field is level.
Unfortunately, unfair trade practices in worldwide markets, especially China, have already driven some firms out of business and are putting even more American aluminum jobs at risk, including the more than 400 U.S. jobs supported by my company, Scepter Inc.
Scepter is right here in Tennessee and is a global leader in recycling aluminum. We buy aluminum scrap and process it into forms that can be transformed into value-added products. Our operations help keep aluminum out of landfills, where it too often ends up in other parts of the world.
Today, 70 percent of U.S. aluminum production is recycled metal, with more than half of all aluminum cans recycled and more than 90 percent of aluminum in buildings and cars recycled at end of life. We recycle more than twice the amount of aluminum today as we did 30 years ago, and these efforts save the equivalent of 100 million barrels of oil every year by limiting reliance on new metal.
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