The sustainability of steel as a material concerns not just the production processes. Increasingly, it is also assessed in relation to the products and applications manufactured from it (for more information, see the “Product Sustainability” chapter). Steel is considered a permanent material thanks to properties such as longevity, ease of repairability, and the possibility of converting steel scrap any number of times into new steel products (multirecycling of steel). Hence steel already makes a substantial contribution to the practice of circularity that the EU wants to achieve by 2050.
However, resource-efficient production also requires increasing the useful life of products and continually improving their reusability and recoverability. As a result, own and third-party scrap are an important source of raw material for voestalpine, whether in connection with conventional technology (used especially in steel plants) or the envisioned shift to electric furnaces.
In addition to the blast furnace/steel plant route practiced in both Linz and Donawitz, scrap is already being used to manufacture special steel grades in the electric furnaces of the High Performance Metals Division. In calendar year 2020, the recycling rate relative to product output was 26.5%. This metric concerns the product’s iron content that is derived from secondary raw materials such as scrap iron.
voestalpine implements numerous measures to promote internal circularity as well as external utilization of residual products and waste from both the production plants and downstream facilities. For one, process management in the integrated steel mills is subject to continual improvement. For another, internally and externally generated products as well as residual products and waste such as scrap and plastic are (re)used in the production plants. By-products such as steel mill dust or slag are utilized in the zinc industry or in the production of cement.
The specific volume of hazardous waste in calendar year 2020 was 28 kg per ton of product, and that of non-hazardous waste 173 kg per ton of product. The increase in the amount of waste stems from rebuilding and demolition work.