Goal: Steel, Our Most Sustainable Material

The North American steel industry is committed to principles of sustainability while manufacturing innovative products that meet society's needs. This commitment is aimed at improving the quality of life for everyone now and for future generations. The steel industry recognizes and values the interdependence of environmental, social and economic advances, goals that are best realized through market forces operating in a growth-oriented regulatory framework.

So, what is sustainability? Many feel it is a “corporate social responsibility” (CSR) to be simply eco friendly and forward looking at the effects of your industry’s actions. While many industries tout themselves as ‘green’, the North American steel industry has invested billions of dollars in innovating new technologies over the past two decades to credibly demonstrate their social responsibility. Expenditures directed towards these investments have had notable results, including reductions in energy consumption, reduced carbon dioxide emissions, a reduced life cycle impact and increased volumes of steel scrap being recycled. These achievements are working towards credibly and convincingly demonstrate steel’s sustainable commitment.

The North American steel industry's long-standing commitment to sustainability programs has already transformed steel into the world's most recycled material, with more than 80 million tons of steel recycled annually. The push for local community recycling programs will continue to grow this figure and benefit the entire life cycle. Since 1990, in addition to increased recycling, the widespread adoption of thin-slab, flat-rolled production using electric arc furnaces, along with other advances in steelmaking processes, the industry has reduced energy intensity per ton of steel produced by 28percent and CO2 emissions by 35 percent per ton of steel shipped since 1990.

Steel has lower energy use and CO2 emissions per ton than aluminum, and magnesium among others. Reductions in energy use and CO2 emissions are rapidly reaching the limits defined by the laws of physics. To achieve continued gains in energy and carbon efficiency, the North American steel industry remains committed to pioneering new steelmaking processes that leverage greener fuels and carbon capture technologies.

In addition to continually reducing its light environmental footprint, our industry is committed to documenting the Life Cycle Impact and sustainable advantages of steel so that material decision makers, policy leaders and ultimately consumers can make informed product decisions. The steel industry is looking further than simply “going green” because, unlike other industries, they already have been green for years. Sustained commitments, promoting green living through recycling and innovative thinking will keep the steel industry ahead of the curve for the benefit of all of us.