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Original Research | Open Access

Improving aluminium resource efficiency in China: Based upon material flow analysis and entropy analysis

Guimei Zhaoa,bYong Genga,c,d( )Chao TangaHan HaoeRaimund Bleischwitzf,g( )Xu Tianc
School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200240, China
School of Finance and Economics, Jiangsu University, Zhenjiang 212013, China
School of International and Public Affairs, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200030, China
China University of Mining and Technology, Xuzhou 221116, China
State Key Laboratory of Automotive Safety and Energy, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
Institute for Sustainable Resources, Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources, University College London, Central House, 14 Upper Woburn Place, London, WC1H0NN, United Kingdom
Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT), Bremen, Germany
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Aluminium is one widely used metal that plays an important role in China's industrial and economic development. The life cycles of aluminium products involve high energy inputs, intensive material consumption and heavy environmental emissions. China has released its ambitious climate change targets, namely reaching carbon peak in 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality in 2060. It is therefore urgent to take appropriate actions to reduce the overall greenhouse gas emissions from aluminium production and increase resource efficiency along the entire aluminium life cycle. Under such circumstances, this study aims to explore China's aluminium recycling potential through dynamic material flow analysis for the period of 2000–2019, covering its whole life cycle and including relevant international trade activities. An entropy analysis method is also applied to identify optimal pathways to improve aluminum resource efficiency and circularity. Results indicate that China has experienced fast growth of aluminum production and consumption during the last two decades, with its output of primary aluminium increasing from 4.18 Mt in 2000 to 35.11 Mt in 2019 and its aluminium consumption increasing from 2.99 Mt in 2000 to 32.5 Mt in 2019. Such rapid growth has resulted in significant environmental impacts. For instance, environmental loss of aluminium at the production stage accounted for 46% of the total loss throughout its entire life cycle in 2000, while such a rate increased to 69% in 2019. As such, entropy analysis results reflect that at the stage of waste management, the relative entropy of aluminium is rising, which indicates that any pollutants discharged into the environment will cause significant damage. Scenarios analysis results further help to identify the optimal pathway of aluminium metabolism system. Finally, several policy recommendations are proposed to improve the overall aluminium resource efficiency.

Circular Economy
Article number: 100005
Cite this article:
Zhao G, Geng Y, Tang C, et al. Improving aluminium resource efficiency in China: Based upon material flow analysis and entropy analysis. Circular Economy, 2022, 1(1): 100005.







Received: 07 February 2022
Revised: 03 March 2022
Accepted: 05 March 2022
Published: 22 June 2022
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of Tsinghua University Press.

This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (