Steel Recycling: A Sustainable Future
Steel is the world’s most recycled material. Steel scrap is still steel! No matter in which form it is, it will always be steel. Probably, it is the only material that is almost 100% recyclable. Its amazing metallurgical properties allow it to be recycled continually with no degradation in performance, and transformation from one product to another. Steel is the most recycled material on the planet, more than all other materials combined. The world collectively produces around 1.6 billion metric tons of steel and consumes 1.5 billion metric tons.
As per the data by World Steel Association, in 2012, the world recycled around 88% of the steel it consumed. Steel recycling is a process by which scrap steel is processed into new steel products.
There are many sources for steel scrap and they are classified into three main categories:
- Home Scrap
- Prompt Scrap
- Obsolete Scrap.
Home scrap is produced from within the mills itself and is available within weeks.
Prompt scrap is produced from manufacturing products from steel, and is available within months.
Obsolete scrap is scrap produced from steel products at the end of their lives and it may take decades before this scrap is available.
Recycling is done to prevent the wastage of potentially useful materials and when we recycle steel, we also reduce the air and water pollution and lower will be the greenhouse gas emissions; and it also reduces the consumption of virgin steel and saves us some energy that can be further used to manufacture or process the steel.
Although iron and carbon are in abundance, there isn’t enough percentage to satisfy fresh productions. We need to protect and preserve these limited resources.
What the Consumer Gets by Recycling Steel
Recycling is done not only because of the environmental reasons but also economic reasons. It is always be cheaper to recycle steel than to mine virgin ore and process it.
So, the next question which arises is why are we mining virgin ores?
Well it is simple, the demand for steel is increasing day by day and the material available for recycle is not equivalent to the demand hence to fulfil the gap we have to mine the virgin ores. Moreover, many steel applications require to last long such as cars, electrical appliances and bridges need to last for a long time so the recycled steel might not be as durable. Thus, we continue to mine virgin ore to supplement the production of new steel.
A steel mill that uses scrap steel instead of virgin iron ore to make a new product is necessarily not compromising on performance and grade.
In fact, its manufacturing process possesses fewer risks to the environment. This gives the consumer an outstanding value.
Benefits of Steel Recycling
As per the US EPA, the benefits of steel recycling in the US is calculated in the following ways
Energy savings: 75%; virgin iron ore savings: 90%; reduction in water use: 40%; reduction in air pollution: 86%; reduction in water pollution: 76%; reduction in mining wastes: 97%; and reduction in consumer wastes: 105%.
Also, every ton of new steel made from scrap steel saves 1,115 kg of iron ore, 625 kg of coal, and 53 kg of limestone.
Which is a big deal to the environment.
Some unique advantages of recycling includes
- The conservation of the ever-diminishing landfill space and recovery of the surface biodiversity destroyed in mining of new raw materials from the ground. Of course, individual observations might be contrary to this.
- It ensures that valuable resources aren’t lost. The metals made from these secondary resources then make much less impact in the re-manufacturing process.
- 100% recyclability is the mark of a sustainable industry.
- Using secondary raw materials means consuming fewer natural resources, which would otherwise be needed to make newer metal compounds such as iron ore in steelmaking.
- EU figures indicate that using recycled raw materials, including metals, cuts CO2 emissions by 200 million tonnes every year.
Steel is the engine that drives the recycling of many consumer goods as can be seen by the 95 percent recycling rate of automobiles, the 88 percent recycling rate of appliances and the 70 percent recycling rate of steel packaging.
What We Think
Never before has there been a time when environmental issues such as recycling have been more relevant. To attain the sustainable development, recycling is the key factor without which steel industry cannot operate. We at EU Metal strongly believe in our moto ‘Reuse, Reduce and Recycle’ For more insights follow us on our social handles.