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The life cycle of aluminium

The service life of aluminium is a unique selling proposition. Few other metals or materials can match its durability and sustainability. From start to finish – in the STEP-G group we provide holistic value creation over the entire life cycle of aluminium. Our focus is always on customer-specific products and recyclability.

A versatile and durable material

Aluminium is a lightweight, strong and versatile material which plays a major part in our lives. From transport or working equipment to food packaging – aluminium is everywhere. What’s more this universally useful material can be re-used without the loss of quality. Recycling aluminium consumes just a fraction of the energy required to produce primary aluminium. At STEP-G we are committed to driving sustainability and environmental protection as a company which plays an integral role in our economic sector. That is why we scrutinise every stage in the life cycle of our aluminium, from primary or secondary production to manufacturing and recycling.

Mining bauxite

Bauxite is a reddish ore mainly found in a broad belt around the equator. It is relatively easy to mine. Recultivation after the end of mining operations ensures the land is returned to its near-natural state. Bauxite contains a high concentration of aluminium oxides and is an abundant resource for aluminium production. Before the raw material can be transformed into aluminium it must be refined in a series of separation processes. This enables efficient production and use of the metal over many years. In fact some aluminium still in use today dates from the 18th century.

Refining aluminium oxide

The Bayer process is applied to extract pure aluminium oxide from the mineral bauxite. This is refined to produce the metal aluminium and the alloys we are familiar with today. Primary aluminium is derived from the aluminium oxide. The yield ratio is 2:1, i.e. 2 tons of aluminium oxide are required for 1 ton of (pure) aluminium. The countless application fields require different characteristics and therefore different aluminium alloys.

Production of primary and secondary aluminium

Aluminium oxide is refined to produce pure aluminium, also termed primary aluminium. In this production stage the aluminium resembles fine white powder. Next comes fused-salt electrolysis in special smelters. During this process, an electric current breaks down the aluminium oxide and cryolite into liquid aluminium and oxygen. Then special alloy elements can be added to the liquid aluminium, which is then cast into standard or customised aluminium billets. This is how primary aluminium is produced.

Aluminium scrap is melted down to produce secondary aluminium. According to the alloy components in the scrap it is then fed back into the material cycle. Recycled aluminium can be recovered any number of times without any loss of quality and at an extremely low energy input. You can find out more about our active environment protection and sustainability policy here.

The next production stage: extrusion pressing

STEP-G is a global manufacturer of extruded aluminium profiles in standard and special alloy qualities. During the production process, the aluminium billet is heated to approx. 500°C, then pressed through a die into standard or highly complex, customer-specific profiles. It makes no difference here whether the material is primary or secondary aluminium. In this process, we can shape aluminium alloys into all possible forms as required by the specific application field. STEP-G, with its professional experts and many years of experience, draws on excellent and crucial capabilities covering the diverse range of applications. You can find an overview of our application fields here.


Melting aluminium scrap into secondary aluminium requires just approx. 5 percent of the energy it takes to produce primary aluminium. This translates into a 95 percent energy saving, which actively helps protect the environment and boosts sustainability. Another major advantage is that no impurities contaminate the aluminium during recycling. That is why some 75 percent of all aluminium ever produced is still in use today. And it explains why aluminium can be recycled again and again.