Recycling and Waste Management


Alcoa has long held the position that wastes should be minimized. Recycling is a top priority for Alcoa Fjardaál and waste materials are regarded as unused resources. A prime example of our efforts is the effective dry scrubbing equipment which cleans more than 99.8% of fluorine from the Fjardaál smelter’s emissions. The fluorine is recycled: it is used for the pots that produce aluminum.


While our ultimate goal is to eliminate the waste created, we very closely manage the wastes we do generate, using modern technology for discharge treatment and control.


Anode butts – what is left of the anodes after aluminum production – are sent to Norway where they are recycled to use for producing new anodes. Spent pot lining (SPL), dross and other by-products from production, are sent to the U.K. for recycling. SPL is used for the production of cement.

No water discharge from production is released into the sea.


Our goal is “zero waste:” that is, no waste goes to landfill. As an example, all waste and by-products are categorized, and biodegradable materials are used for compost.


Alcoa in the US: Recycling Awareness Initiative

For as long as we've been making aluminum, we've been recycling aluminum. Alcoa has announced a goal to help the US raise its recycling rate for aluminum beverage cans from 52% to 75% by 2015. This would put the US above the current global average and rank it among the top recycling countries. If we could recover and recycle 75% of the aluminum cans being currently tossed into landfills in the US — 600,000 metric tons of aluminum — we could save 1286 megawatts of generated electricity. That's the amount produced by two coal fired power plants, and consumed by two aluminum plants. Replacing this production with recycling would keep 11.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from being generated and released into the atmosphere.


The public needs to understand the problem and the opportunity.

Recycling needs to become more convenient and more rewarding for consumers  The supply chain needs to become more efficient and more profitable for commercial recyclers.


Alcoa is committed to working with all partners involved to make this vision a reality. The health of the US aluminum industry—and of the planet—depends on it.


Alcoa recycling homepage

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Spent Pot Lining is used for the production of cement


All Spent Pot Lining from the Fjardaál smelter will be recycled

Spent pot lining (SPL) is a byproduct generated when the carbon and refractory lining of an aluminium electrolytic cell, known as a pot, reaches the end of its useful life (usually about 7-8 years). Landfilling has been the historical means of disposal, but Alcoa's goals of reducing landfilled waste and converting SPL into a usable product by 2010 have spurred efforts to reduce the amount of SPL generated and increase the amount recycled. The multiple benefit of recycling SPL is both to eliminate landfill and extract the energy from what has been, for 100+ years, pure waste.                    

Alcoa recycled 23% of the SPL we produced in 2007. While this is up from the 17% we recycled in 2006, progress has been slower than desired. Alcoa Fjardaál helps us to reach the goal by recycling 100% of SPL generated in the smelter in Reydarfjordur (the first SPL will probably come from the smelter around 2014).



Dross recycled in the U.K.

Dross, or skim, is the material that is skimmed off the surface of molten metal before it can be cast into ingots, bars, etc. This material is collected and cooled to a solid. Composed of impurities and oxides, dross is sent to processors in the U.K. to recover aluminum.