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A Deep Dive Into Steel Sustainability

By Camille Grayson
on August 18, 2021

One of the most pressing topics worldwide right now is climate change. In the United States alone, an estimated 251 million tons of consumer solid waste is generated annually, with 40 percent of that coming from construction projects. At a time when greater environmental responsibility is more important than ever, steel is here to help.

Steel is one of the most sustainable and versatile building materials available. And the American Iron and Steel Institute outlined a number of facts that prove it:

Steel is recyclable

Did you know steel is the most recycled material in the world? In fact, many steel products are 100% recyclable at the end of their lifespan and can be continually repurposed into new steel products. For instance, a steel beam could be reused as another steel beam, or repurposed as a food can, refrigerator or roof panel.

Thanks to today’s sorting and separating technology, millions of tons of iron and steel can be diverted from landfills and instead be put to beneficial use.

American steel is leading the sustainability charge

The United States is one of the worldwide leaders in steel sustainability. In the U.S. alone, there are 60 to 80 million tons of steel scrap recycled into new steel products each year. You could build 25 Eiffel Towers with the amount of steel recycled in the U.S. each day.

The American steel industry is also the cleanest and most energy-efficient in the world. Of the seven countries that produce the most steel, the United States produces the lowest CO2 emissions per ton of steel produced and has the lowest energy intensity.

The steelmaking process in the U.S. is also more sustainable than that of other world leaders. More American steel comes from electric arc furnaces (EAFs) than most other regions, resulting in lower process emissions of CO2 from steelmaking. The U.S. also uses a much higher percentage of low-emitting natural gas in its mills than most other countries.

More sustainable innovations are coming

American steel isn’t resting on its laurels when it comes to preserving our planet. Work is already underway to make the industry’s operations more sustainable, and one of the first steps is increasing use of renewable energy in steel production.

Steel producers across the country are also doing their part to implement more sustainable practices at their facilities. Many manufacturers have announced plans to employ renewable energy to supply all or most of a facility’s energy requirements. Further innovation will continue to decrease the CO2 intensity of steel produced in the U.S.

Learn more about the sustainable benefits of American steel, and let us know what you’re doing to help the industry become even more sustainable!