R- word gains street cred as pro­duc­ers’ mantra of choice

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Steel -

R ECY­CLING is a crit­i­cal tool in the steel in­dus­try pro­pa­ganda to mar­ket its prod­ucts in a world where gov­ern­ments and con­sumers are in­creas­ingly con­cerned about the en­vi­ron­ment and, in par­tic­u­lar, about global warm­ing.

The in­dus­try claims that steel is ‘‘ the most re­cy­cled ma­te­rial in the world,’’ re­port­ing that ‘‘ the 20 bil­lionth tonne of steel’’ was re­cy­cled last Oc­to­ber. ‘‘ Al­most all avail­able steel is re­cy­cled,’’ it adds.

The In­ter­na­tional Iron & Steel In­sti­tute, which rep­re­sents 180 steel pro­duc­ers around the world in­clud­ing 19 of the 20 largest firms, says be­tween 50 and 90 per cent of steel used in the con­struc­tion sec­tor is re­cy­cled, de­pend­ing on the prod­uct’s use. Con­struc­tion steel, IISI notes, can also be re- used with­out re­pro­cess­ing, sav­ing ad­di­tional green­house gas emis­sions.

The In­sti­tute points out that steel and iron com­po­nents make up about 65 per cent of the av­er­age ve­hi­cle. ‘‘ Once all flu­ids have been drained, and re- us­able parts re­moved from a car, scrap pro­ces­sors shred it and sell fer­rous ma­te­rial to steel mills. The av­er­age re­cy­cling rate for iron and steel in cars is close to 100 per cent.’’

It also claims that steel cans are the most re­cy­cled food and bev­er­age con­tain­ers in the world, with the record for their re­cy­cling be­ing held in Bel­gium ( 93 per cent) and South Africa and Ja­pan ( 90 per cent).

Steel- to- steel re­cy­cling, the In­sti­tute says, means that a steel can is just as likely to be­come part of a bridge, a car or a ship in its next life. ‘‘ It can be re­cy­cled any num­ber of times with­out loss of qual­ity, one of the few ma­te­ri­als that does not lose its prop­er­ties when re­cy­cled — it is as strong and durable when re­cy­cled as new steel made from iron ore.’’

Even in­cin­er­a­tion does not stop steel from be­ing re­cy­cled be­cause its mag­netism makes it re­cov­er­able. The In­sti­tute says that data col­lected in 35 coun­tries, in­clud­ing the 27- mem­ber Euro­pean Union, North Amer­ica, China, Ja­pan, South Africa and Brazil, show that 6.6 mil­lion tonnes of steel cans were re­cy­cled in 2006, sav­ing 11.9 mil­lion tonnes of car­bon diox­ide from be­ing re­leased to the en­vi­ron­ment. Keith Orchi­son

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