Projects and Features
Steelmaking’s sustainable future
As global supply and demand for raw steel moves into balance, steelmakers focus on a sustainable industry.
The World Steel Association estimates that global steel demand for this year will be up by 0.2% to 1,502 million tonnes. On the supply side, global crude steel production fell by almost 1% in the year to August according to the International Steel Statistics Bureau.
Against this more balanced backdrop, UK steelmakers have reorganised to ensure a sustainable supply of domestically produced steel. Tata Steel sold its Long Products Europe business, including the Scunthorpe steelworks and two mills in Teesside to Greybull Capital in early 2016, relaunching the business as British Steel. Tata Steel also sold its Scottish plate mills to Liberty Steel; production at the Dalzell plate mill recommenced at the end of September.
“High quality European steelmakers including ArcelorMittal Europe continue to contribute to the competitiveness of the UK structural steelwork sector by ensuring a balanced supply of steel from multiple sources and by delivering innovative products to the market. One example is ArcelorMittal’s S460 steel that can bring efficient and expressive design to everyday structures,” says ArcelorMittal Commercial UK Senior Technical Sales Engineer & Business Development Neil Tilley.Over this period the supply of raw steel from both domestic and high quality European sources for the structural market has continued uninterrupted ensuring the steel supply chain remained competitive.
A study from KPMG showed that there is sufficient capacity in the UK structural steelwork sector to meet current and future demand, including for new infrastructure projects.
The steel industry and government have been working together to support UK steelmaking and maintain a competitive supply of high quality steel to downstream supply chains, including structural steelwork. The British Constructional Steelwork Association has been involved in these activities, including the Steel Council and its working groups.
Arising from this work, government announced a range of measures to support a sustainable supply of steel, including a ruling that Public Procurement Note 16/15 (PPN 16/15) will now be mandatory for all government projects including National Health Service and local authority projects.
The PPN which examines the sustainable sourcing of steel, security of supply, health and safety, and other community benefits among other factors, is already starting to flow through the construction supply chain.
British Steel, Tata Steel and ArcelorMittal Europe – Long Products have all been certified under the BRE Environmental & Sustainability Standard BES 6001. The BES 6001 standard requires manufacturers for the construction industry to demonstrate that their products are made with responsibly sourced materials.
Steel’s environmental properties are already well known, and in the built environment, 99% of hot-rolled steel sections can be re-used or recycled at their end of life.
UK and European steelmakers are continuing to focus on improving the efficiency of steel production to drive down costs and further reduce its environmental impact. They are also progressing research and development to create new steel grades with enhanced properties to meet the ever increasing demands of clients.
Advancements in technology have allowed steelmakers to roll heavier and thicker sections in higher grades while maintaining the ductility and weldability required for structural sections. Over the past years there has been a trend to move from S275 to S355 grade steel which has been driven significantly by the increasing needs of sustainable construction to use less material.
Recently, the Ultra-Low Carbon Dioxide Steelmaking (ULCOS) consortium was established to reduce the CO2 emissions from the most efficient steelmaking routes by at least 50%. The consortium which includes all the major EU steelmaking companies has completed phase 1 of its work programme.
With this support, investment and development, steel’s future is sustainable.