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