Steel is a remarkable material not only for its inherent structural properties. It is the world’s most recycled metal and can be recycled indefinitely, making it a near perfect sustainable material. Recycling steel does not compromise its quality nor performance characteristics. New steel produced from reclaimed and recycled steel can therefore be used in the manufacturing of any steel product.
Steel scrap is an essential part of the production process of new steel products. Recycled content can account for up to 60% of the raw material used. Steel’s magnetic properties make it the easiest material to recover from industrial waste. As a result, there is a genuine demand for recovered steel, which allows the recycling loop to be closed. Every steel plant is potentially a recycling plant.
Other metal advantages include no associated landfill costs and significant residual value at end of life. The rising costs of landfill taxes provide obvious reasons to specify steel. Specifying metal reaps considerable long term gains in both life cycle and environmental costs.
The infrastructure for scrap recycling is well established globally. In Europe 60% of steel production is made from scrap, globally it is 40%. The current recycling and re-use rate for steel construction products in the UK is 94%, and all new steel has a recycled content.
Every tonne of steel recycled makes the following environmental saving:
1.5 tonnes of iron ore
0.5 tonnes of coal
40% of the water required in production
75% of the energy needed to make steel from virgin material
1.28 tonnes of solid waste
Reduction of air emission by 86%
Reduction of water pollution by 76%