Steel is 100% recyclable with no downgrading in quality, which makes steel the most recycled material in the world. But steelmaking is not isolated - it is governed by many laws, rules, regulations and restrictions. Therefore, as we look to the future, governments and society must make informed decisions, using a life cycle approach, on where and how to sensibly add extra rules and restrictions. Successful steelmaking must operate within these frameworks and continue to explore new sustainable ways forward into the future.
Steel – the permanent material in the circular economy
As a permanent material which can be recycled over and over again without losing its properties, steel is fundamental to the circular economy. In the sustainable future, new economic models will maximise the value of raw materials by encouraging practices such as reuse and remanufacturing. The weight of many steel products will be reduced, losses will be minimised, and the already high recycling rate for steel will increase, resulting in more recycled steel to make new steel products.
Pre-consumer recycling from the steelmaking and manufacturing processes will decrease due to increased process efficiencies and collaboration between steelmakers and their customers to reduce yield losses. For society the benefits will include durable products, local jobs, reduced emissions, and the conservation of raw materials for future generations.