Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Recycling of Steel


Steel like most other metals is recyclable. From time immemorial people have recycled Steel. In a world that is becoming increasingly  aware to environment protection; recycling of steel saves the entire range of raw materials that goes into production of steel; like 1.5 tons of iron ore, 0.6 tonnes of coal, 0.5 ton of lime stones and 250 liters of oil to name a few. This apart it also saves CO2 emission.
At this time, when steel prices are going through squeezing margins, scrap prices that influence the steel markets is an important factor to be consider.  Scrap represents 70% of production costs in steel manufactured through EAF (Electric Arc Furnace) route. This process is used to manufacture 26% of global steel output. Even in the normal blast furnace based production process, scrap constitutes as an important additive. 60% of USA production is based on scrap. USA is a major exporter of scrap while Turkey is a major importer of scrap with approximately 20 million tonnes. HMS #1 & 2 are the grades of scrap that is frequently traded and is appropriate for steel production. Its specification is defined by Institute of Steel Recycling Industries. (ISRI)
During a recent conference on metal recycling in India, Steel Secretary announced the Governments resolve to frame a policy on metal recycling. It was announced that there would be a set of policies on end-of-life-cycle of commodities and a new institutional mechanism framed as per the industry's requirements, the best that will suit the country's requirements.

While steel makers are livid with the havoc caused by Chinese exporters, India remains a bright spot, where the consumption is expected to grow at 7-8% yoy, for several years to come! Looking in this context recycled steel holds lot of promise.  Many everyday products, such as cars, cans and washing machines, refrigerators are made of steel. Once these products reach the end of their useful lives, the steel is recycled. Recycling reduces the consumption of raw materials and energy and is therefore is good for the environment. With recycling supplies will remain abundant for generations to come. Recycling reduces waste and produces alternate economics and employment potential. With global recovery rate of more than 70% steel is the most recycled material in the world. What is a railway wagon or container today can be a surgical blade tomorrow!

This also leads to one envisioning a future ready infrastructure which is completely focused on steel with minimal use of concrete, cement, tar and other materials which are non-recyclable. Already, in USA and other developed markets one will see that the ratio of steel to cement has increased as builders have started to use fabricated steel beams and reduced cement usage. This is not only a sustainable practice but also, increases the saleable square feet area. Indeed a perfect example of socially economical business! This is what the world needs to focus on.

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