The aluminum shortage that began amidst the 2020 pandemic continues to plague the US now, and for the forseeable future. Aluminum productionand demand was shifted with the beginning of the pandemic and country wide lockdowns. While the average consumer previously purchased beverages in restaurants and breweries, they were now seeking out solely canned drinks to keep at home. This sudden growth of can demand was something aluminum producers were not prepared for. This led to shortages and overbuying.
In addition to the pandemic, magnesium restrictions is another contributor to the present aluminum shortage. Most of magnesium is sourced from China, though China’s smelting limits and efforts to decrease emissions restricts the amount they can export. Seeking out alternate magnesium suppliers is often too expensive to consider.
Unfortunately, although aluminum is often preferred due to its light weight, it requires a high amount of electricity to produce. Fourteen megawatt hours are necessary to produce one ton of aluminum ingot, which is enough to power a home for an entire year. For reference, the US alone manufactures five million tons a year.
As far as the aluminum shortage ending, experts are hesitant with predictions. However, most agree the earliest expected end would be sometime in 2023. As the nation moves back towards normalcy, aluminum purchasing could subside and have uncertain impacts on the supply chain. In the meantime, additional production plants are being constructed to keep up with the high demand and current shortage.