ULSAB Uses Green Steel - The Most Recycled Material

DETROIT, MI, March 4, 1998 – The UltraLight Steel Auto Body (ULSAB), revealed in Detroit today, contains 447 lbs. (203 kg) of steel. On an historical basis, about 28 percent of the lightweight structure has already served mankind in some different way – as a can or other steel container, as a bridge truss or building girder, or as another car or truck body.

In a period when every industry is striving to be or appear to be "greener" or more environmentally friendly, steel remains as the most recycled material, which produces enormous benefits for mother earth. Through its unparalleled capacity to be recycled again and again, steel saves precious resources and reduces waste.

Motor vehicles are the most recycled consumer products. Comparing the number of automobiles taken off the road in 1996 to the number of new cars produced shows a recycling rate of 97.9 percent for the year. The 12 million cars recycled in 1996 in North America alone would circle the earth more than one and one-half times.

Virtually every vehicle that is taken off the road today is recycled, due to the economic value of its steel and iron content and the fact that steel is the most environmentally friendly material economically available to the auto industry. As a result, the economics and "greenness" of steel drives the recycling of other materials – other metals, plastics and fibers from cars and trucks.

Steel also is the easiest to recycle. Since it has no "memory," steel can be melted down and reused in a wide variety of applications no matter what its alloy type or composition. By contrast, unsorted aluminum alloys normally must be recycled into a lower grade of aluminum, such as a casting, and many plastics are difficult, expensive or impossible to recycle. Most steel also is easily and inexpensively separated for re-use because it is magnetic.

The steel industry continues to look for innovative ways to help the environment:

  • The industry’s discharge of air and water pollutants has been reduced by over 90 percent in the past 25 years. Over 95 percent of the water used for making steel is recycled.
  • Energy consumption in steelmaking has been cut by 45 percent since 1975, also significantly reducing carbon dioxide emissions that can contribute to global warming.
  • Electrical steels produced with specialized electromagnetic properties help produce significant energy savings in power transformers.
  • Alloy steels designed to operate at very high temperatures allow capture and reuse of waste heat in power plants, providing a substantial increase in electricity production.
  • Improved steelmaking technology also has resulted in lighter, stronger steels, which means that less steel must be used for a given task, further saving energy and resources.
  • Stainless steel exhaust systems that typically last the life of a vehicle.

The Automotive Applications Committee (AAC) is a subcommittee of the Market Development Committee of AISI and focuses on advancing the use of steel in the highly competitive automotive market. With offices and staff located in Detroit, cooperation between the automobile and steel industries has been significant to its success. This industry cooperation resulted in the formation of the Auto/Steel Partnership, a consortium of DaimlerChrysler, Ford and General Motors and the member companies of the AAC.

American Iron and Steel Institute/
Automotive Applications Committee:
AK Steel Corporation
Acme Steel Company
Bethlehem Steel Corporation
Dofasco Inc.
Ispat Inland Inc.
National Steel Corporation
Rouge Steel Company
Stelco Inc.
United States Steel Corporation
WCI Steel, Inc.
Weirton Steel Corporation