Water serves to cool equipment and to generate steam that is used to produce energy and thus is an important consumable and auxiliary material in the entire production and processing cycle.
Thanks to circular systems and the repeated utilization of process water, voestalpine uses water resources as sparingly as possible. In keeping with ISO 14046 and the integrated LCA approach, assessments of the water circulation systems are performed across absolutely all production steps and sites.
The amount of water used rose from 678 million m3 in calendar year 2020 to 722 million m3 in calendar year 2021 due to expanding crude steel production and processing. Most of it (93%) was sourced from surface water for cooling purposes and returned back to the source in the same quality. The direct blue water consumption climbed from 12.4 million m3 to 14.0 million m3; as before, this equates to 1.32 million m3 per ton of product. Upstream steel production accounted for most of the indirect consumption of 53.4 million m3 (2020: 47.4 million m3) in absolute terms and thus (as previously) 5.03 m3 per ton of product.
voestalpine’s water consumption in production and processing has but minor effects on local water systems and does not aggravate conditions in regions already affected by water scarcity. This is the finding of an externally verified study that determined the water scarcity footprint based on a cradle-to-gate analysis of all production activities across the entire value chain. Determining the blue water consumption, i.e., the net consumption of freshwater, and/or the water scarcity footprint of each and every production facility involves detailed analyses of the ways they contribute to the given region’s water scarcity, also taking local hydrogeological conditions into account.