Mario Conserva, Secretary General of FACE, the Federation of Aluminium Consumers in Europe.
FACE represents the interests of the European aluminium downstream sector which encompasses transformers and final users companies, mostly SMEs, and employs over 200,000 workers today with a total turnover exceeding 70 billion euros.
1- The Italian aluminium industry has suffered a significant blow due to the COVID-19 emergency. What will be the post-COVID-19 scenario for the sector? Do you think the measures put in place by the government have been sufficient to deal with the emergency?
1-MC- The metallurgical industry as a whole was not considered strategic in Italy. Therefore, the production companies, first and second aluminium processing and end-users, suffered from the lockdown which led to production halts for the vast majority of companies in the sector. This has resulted in production losses, especially in March and April 2020. Of course the broader picture is more complex and intricate: foundry casting companies for example, strongly linked to the automotive sector, have suffered much heavier consequences than rolled products companies with shared production linked to packaging and pharmaceuticals. Today, all segments have been torn apart. We believe that Covid has probably opened a different new future as it led to substantial revisions in our economy and industry. For companies operating in the aluminium sector, however, a continuous global growth will certainly resume as the light metal chain has been consistently growing up for almost 150 years. For instance, today in the world 100 million tons of aluminium and its alloys are being used. In thirty years, this number is expected to grow up to 150 million tons. Covid 19 emergency is more or less an exceptional crisis which will be reabsorbed. Regarding the extraordinary measures implemented by the Italian government, one must take into consideration that Italy was unfortunately among the first countries to be affected by the virus. Without any references or prior-experience, I believe that, considering the difficult and unprecedented situation, the maximum of what could have been done was done.
2- Within the “Next Generation EU”, aka. the economic plan for recovery from the COVID-19 crisis that European leaders are discussing right now, a substantial segment includes the “Green Deal” policies launched by the new Commission, for which the Italian government has shown its support, as well as the strategies for mitigation and adaptation to climate change, pollution reduction and the promotion of the circular economy. Do you think that this ambitious “industrial renaissance” can have a positive impact on the industry, in particular on the aluminium sector?
2-MC- The EU will keep the Green Deal as its flagship in its strategy for global leadership in innovation, economy, social rights and good governance; especially given its ambition to use the low-carbon transition as leverage for major technological leadership, job creation and growth in the near future. The world is moving towards a low carbon paradigm, and the youth in most societies, who are or soon will be voters, are exerting strong political pressure for a more ambitious and virtuous path of sustainability (e.g. climate, environment, biodiversity). In this context, the demand for aluminium, as I said before, will soar and this demand will give the edge on low carbon aluminium in an increasingly oriented approach to reduce emissions and pollutants.
3- What makes you so sure that aluminium can become the strategic material to lead towards a “green” recovery of the economy, based on a new model of industrial sustainability, decarbonisation and circular economy?
3-MC- Given its lightness, full recyclability, extraordinary combination of mechanical, technological, durability and resistance to aggressive agents, aluminium is the ideal material to chaperon and accelerate the transition towards a truly green economy, which is an undisputed pillar for the survival of our planet. Aluminium, along with its innumerable alloys, is the perfect material for creating all types of transport, construction, mechanical component, packaging, furniture, appliance, object design, energy transmission, etc. And above all, it is indefinitely recyclable with recovery rates between 75 and 90% in some segments such as transportation and mobility, construction and packaging.At the end of this brief exchange of ideas, I would like to remind you that Aluminium and the Green Deal will be among the main themes of the METEF 2021 international exhibition at Fiera Bologna from 25 to 27 March 2021, the first trade fair event born in 1997 and dedicated specifically to aluminium and to technological metals; now in its twelfth edition, METEFE 2021 will be held next year in Bologna, in parallel with MECSPE, a major exhibition of the manufacturing industry, and will be the occasion for the great relaunch of light metal in terms of advanced technologies, social and environmental sustainability.
BRESCIA 20 July 2020
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