The Raw Materials Initiative of the European Union (EU), which aims to “boost overall resource efficiency and promote recycling to reduce the EU’s consumption of primary raw materials and decrease the relative import dependence”, is currently implemented on the national and industry levels. This paper discusses the interpretation of the different indicators used to evaluate the resource efficiency of materials using the example of aluminium. Aluminium is used mainly in long-life applications, like building, transport and engineering, with only packaging materials having a short lifespan. One inventory in use states that about 700 Mt has been accumulated, accounting for 75% of the primary metal ever produced. This metal stock is the future source of raw material and energy in which we have invested. In 2010 about 50 Mt of aluminium entered the use phase as finished products. In the same year 11 Mt of end-of-life scrap was collected for recycling. In other words, less than a quarter of the current aluminium demand is covered by scrap from used products. It becomes problematical if this statistical indicator is used as a criterion for recycling performance. The recycled content of aluminium products is not low because of inefficient recycling but because of increasing demand for long-life products, driven by the need for the unique metallic properties of the lightweight metal. Consequently, growth in demand and an increasing lifespan determine the share of recycled metal in the global production of aluminium. Additionally, trade in scrap and products influence the regional results.