Melting steel scrap from products at the end of their useful life to create new steels. Recycling alters the physical form of the steel object so that a new application can be reated from the recycled material while maintaining the inherent properties of the original steel.
Steel has been recycled ever since it was first made. All available steel scrap is recycled, over and over again to create new steel products in a closed material loop.
Recycled steel maintains the inherent properties of the original steel. These properties can be modified during the steelmaking process or through mechanical processes to create the many thousands of advanced and commodity steel grades available. The quality of the steel product can also be improved on recycling.
The high value of steel scrap ensures the economic viability of recycling. With its inherent magnetic properties, steel is easy and affordable to recover from almost any waste stream.
This is why steel is the most recycled material in the world. Around 680 million tonnes (Mt) of steel were recycled in 2021, avoiding over one billion tonnes of CO2 emissions that would have been emitted from the production of virgin steel.
This includes pre-consumer scrap from manufacturing and post-consumer scrap from steel products at the end of their useful life.
Although all available steel scrap is recycled, there is not enough scrap available to meet demand for new steel products.
While many steel products such as packaging and vehicles have a short to medium service life, large-scale products such as buildings and bridges are designed to last for decades or centuries.
In the future, all of this material will be recycled to meet our ever-growing need for low-carbon steel.