Future Begins with Steel

A Fact Sheet

Steel is a cornerstone and key driver for the world's economy.

The steel industry directly employs more than two million people worldwide, plus two million contractors and four million people in supporting industries. Including industries such as construction, transport and energy, the steel industry is a source of employment for more than 50 million people.In 2013, the world steel industry produced 1.6 billion tons of crude steel.

Steel is at the core of the green economy, in which economic growth and environmental responsibility work hand in hand.

Steel is the main material used in delivering renewable energy: solar, tidal and wind. Steel is 100% recyclable and can be used in new products and applications amounting to significant energy and raw material savings.

The amount of energy required to produce a ton of steel has been reduced by 50% in the past 30 years.

Steel is everywhere in our lives. No other material has the same unique combination of strength, formability and versatility.

Steel surfaces are hygienic and easy to clean. Surgical and safety equipment and commercial kitchens are all made with steel. Almost 200 billion cans of food are produced each year. Steel cans ensure that food remains safe and nutritious while saving energy as refrigeration is not needed.

Steel is an innovative and progressive industry committed to the safety and health of its people.

The industry is committed to the goal of an injury-free workplace. Safety metrics show that the lost-time injury frequency rate is decreasing. Globally, the steel industry spends more than €12 billion per year on process improvements, new product development and future breakthrough technology.

Life cycle thinking: New solutions for new times.

Life cycle assessment (LCA) considers production, manufacture, use phase and end of life recycling and disposal. Life cycle thinking leads to immediate environmental benefit. LCA is easy to implement, cost effective and produces affordable and beneficial solutions for material decision making and product design.

  • Steel is the world's most recycled material.The steel industry has been actively recycling for more than 150 years.
  • Almost 65% of new steel is today produced from old steel.
  • Steel is very friendly to the environment.
  • The life cycle of steel is potentially continuous as its properties remain unchanged no matter how many times you recycle it.
  • Steel possesses great durability, and, compared to other materials, requires relatively low amounts of energy to produce.
  • The steel industry has made immense efforts to limit environmental pollution in the last decades. Energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions have decreased by one-half of what they were in the 1960s. Dust emissions have been reduced by even more.
  • Steel is derived from iron ore, a natural substance obtained from the earth itself and hence, has no environmental impact on the earth.
  • Zinc is one of the few materials that can be recycled indefinitely. Approximately 30% of Zinc produced globally comes form recycling. The only reason this figure isn't higher is because the durability of galvanized steel and other zinc products means they remain in service for much longer and therefore have not been returned yet. 80% of the zinc available for recycling is recycled.
  • Today, steel is one of the most common materials in the world and is a major component in buildings, infrastructure, tools, ships, automobiles, machines, and appliances.
  • Steel pipes are made of natural material and carry no health hazards. The world over, steel pipes are considered the safest option for the conveyance of potable water.

Steel is considered the premier green construction material, is continuing to improve its environmentally friendly position by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. While numerous legislative and regulatory efforts have targeted emissions, energy efficiency, and related environmental concerns in recent years, the structural steel industry has been proactive in pursuing measures of its own that typically exceed regulatory requirements.

The results of structural steel industry efforts are evident in recent US Environmental Protection Agency findings on greenhouse gasses, which show that the iron and steel industry reduced carbon emissions by 47% between 1990 and 2005 along with the highest overall emissions reduction of any major industry of 67%.

At the same time, the industry remains the world leader in the use of recycled material and end-of-life recycling, with the recycled content of the structural steel beams and columns produced at U.S. mills averaging 88% and a recycling rate of 98%. The steel industry has also continually pursued methods for reducing energy consumption and has reduced energy intensity per ton of steel by 29% since 1990. The industry also has committed to the Climate Vision program, which seeks to reduce energy usage by an additional 10 percent by 2012.