During the first half of 2012/13—as in the previous reporting periods—there were various issues that continued to be of key significance, from the viewpoint of the European steel industry, in the area of environmental reporting: the CO2/post-Kyoto regime, LCA (Life Cycle Assessment), the EU REACH regulation (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals), and the revision to the IPPC Directive (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive). For further information on these matters, please refer to the detailed discussion of these issues in prior publications (specifically the and the ). Internally, the focus over the last half-year was placed on the areas of energy and raw materials efficiency, on the abatement of air and water emissions, and on waste prevention and recycling.
On June 20, 2012, voestalpine Schienen GmbH was bestowed the EMAS Award for the best Austrian environmental team, based on the unique commitment to minimizing the environmental impact of business operations as demonstrated by the employees and executive management.
In the fall of 2012, the Steel Division initiated its comprehensive remediation of contaminated soils at the coking plant in Linz (Environmental Contamination Site Remediation Project 076, “Linz Coking Plant”), necessary due to the contamination caused by destruction of the coking plant during World War II. Due to the spatial expansion of the area, this remediation effort is being conducted in gradual steps and will extend over a period of at least ten years. The goal is to comprehensively clean up the last contaminated site at the Linz location without disruption to plant operations, and once the remediation work is complete, to use some of the decontaminated areas of the coking plant for future development projects. These plans deal with the largest contaminated soil remediation project in Austria. The total costs may run up to EUR 154 million and will be covered by the public sector for the most part.
In the Special Steel Division, the Kapfenberg site in Austria was able to achieve a substantial increase in energy efficiency and reduction of natural gas consumption—resulting in a marked abatement of CO2 emissions—thanks to the installation of the new bogie hearth furnace with regenerative burner system. Process optimizations—such as shortened annealing times and higher annealing temperatures and the use of a regenerative burner—led to a considerable decline in power consumption at the Hagfors production site in Sweden. A new extraction system that also minimizes diffuse dust emissions was installed at Buderus Edelstahl in Wetzlar, Germany, in order to optimize air purification of the incineration area in the scrap yard at the steel plant.
In the Metal Engineering Division, the extensive structural renovation measures at the main site for turnout production in Zeltweg, Austria, not only led to improvements in energy technology, but also critical improvements in acoustic, fire safety, and heating technologies. At Böhler Schweißtechnik Deutschland GmbH, the use of an automated wire cleaning system for hard-drawn wires helped minimize both acid consumption as well as wastewater output, while it simultaneously enhanced quality. A new press control system at voestalpine Schweißtechnik Austria GmbH facilitates a reduction in scrap and waste quantities and thus represents a significant contribution to waste prevention. In the area of product development, when it comes to welding high-tensile strength steel, the Sweden-based Böhler Welding Group Nordic AB is turning to a new generation of electrodes that reduces the need for surface protection and thus minimizes environmental impact.
Current environmental projects in the Metal Forming Division are dealing with minimizing energy requirements at voestalpine Polynorm B.V. in the Netherlands by automating the lighting system and investing in a new, efficient injection molding system for voestalpine Polynorm Van Niftrik B.V. at its site in Putte, Netherlands, as well as new model calculations for the life cycle assessment of materials, focusing on recyclability.