Any colour you like – but always green
Strip steel products from Coilcolor are practical, cost-effective and long lasting building materials. But how green are they? What are the implications of using coated steel for the environment?
Steel is an inherently sustainable product – 100% of the steel we use can be recycled again and again. So the material we use on today's environmental structures is also a store of material for use by future generations. And the steel we manufacture today re-uses almost all of the scrap produced anywhere in the world.
Looking at the proportion of a product that is recycled at the end of its life is an important way to assess its impact on the environment. The steel industry as a whole achieves over 80%, and 94% in the UK.
There are two processes used by steelmakers in recycling. The scrap is either melted in an electric arc furnace, or mixed with molten iron ore. In the former process, the recycled content can be as much as 100%. The second method produces a product with recycled content of 10-20%, and is the most commonly used due to the comparative scarcity of scrap material. Overall, the average recycled content of steel produced in the UK is around 55%.
The fact that 90% of UK steel products are currently recycled is a more important indicator of sustainability than the percentage of recycled material in new products. On the surface it would seem that specifying a minimum recycled content is a good way of ensuring a product's green credentials, and it has been proven to work with other materials which could otherwise be disposed of through incineration or land-fill. This approach is less relevant to the steel industry for a number of reasons.
- The demand for steel is increasing and cannot be met by using scrap alone.
- Almost all the current scrap is already being recycled, so setting a minimum recycled content would not achieve any increase.
- A minimum recycled content requirement could lead to demand for recycled material from around the world that increases shipping costs, drives up prices, increases emissions and in the end is self-defeating.
Coilcolor uses 100% recyclable steel in a process that re-uses most of the world's scrap steel. Its processes are designed with end-of-life recyclability built in, from design and management to disposal and recycling of products at the end of their useful life.
Find out more about Aluminium Life Cycle Management.