Improving steel's performance
The energy and greenhouse gas emission intensity of steel production has decreased markedly. In the last 50 years the steel industry has reduced its energy consumption per tonne of steel produced by 60% (worldsteel, 2015) by continuous improvement and technological change.
Over this time, Australia's steel industry has moved from 100% ingot casting to 100% continuous casting, improving yields and saving about 25% of the energy formerly required to make slabs.
Recycling and reuse
The ability of steel to be reused and recycled again and again into new steel products is one of its main and unrivalled sustainability virtues. Measured in tonnes, steel is easily the most recycled material in the world with around 650 Mt or over 80% recycled annually (worldsteel, 2018).
In Australia, in percentage terms, metals have the highest recycling rate of all solid waste generated in Australia – 82%, compared with 74% of concrete waste, 55% of paper waste and 38% of glass waste (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2006).
Environmental Product Declarations
Environmental Product Declarations and other similar forms of certification are designed to convey the environmental credentials of a product.
They can contain an assessment of embodied energy, greenhouse gas estimate, global warming effect and often have an environmental impact rating that takes account of, for example, varying regional factors. They also track the so-called stewardship of a product – i.e. the relative sustainability of mining, transport, energy use, manufacturing, waste disposal and other factors involved in its generation.
There has been a significant uptake of EPDs in Australia with about 10 currently achieved by the steelmakers BlueScope Steel and Infrabuild.
The ASI is an affiliate member of worldsteel Association with access to all its sustainability information. You can read more at the following: