Stainless Steel: New Report on Stocks and Flows

Stainless steel is the material of choice for countless applications than span right across the spectrum of industry. In addition to being strong, tough, durable, cost-effective, hygienic and resistant to corrosion and extreme temperatures, stainless steel is an especially sustainable material thanks to its ability to be infinitely recycled.

Stainless Steel in Construc­tion

The results of a new study by Team Stainless, which focused on the stocks and flows cycle of stainless steel were published recently. Team Stainless is an alliance between a number of different organisations: the European Steel Association (Eurofer), the International Stainless Steel Forum, the International Molybdenum Association, the International Nickel Study Group, the Nickel Institute and the International Chromium Development Association. The organisation provides 'accurate and industry-leading information about the properties and sustainable benefits of stainless steel' to the stainless steel industry.

Key findings from the study, which was conducted by Yale University's Senior Research Scientist Barbara Reck and entitled ‘Comprehensive Multilevel Cycle of Stainless Steel', include:

  • 85% of stainless steel is recycled at the end of its service life
  • Of this amount, 56% becomes new stainless steel and 29% is used as a source of iron to produce carbon steel
  • Stainless steel's average recycled content totalled 44%, comprising 12% carbon steel scrap and 32% stainless steel scrap
  • The USA and Europe had the highest recycled content of stainless steel, respectively 71% and 70%. Though China produced a the majority of stainless steel, the recycled content of this was just 23%
  • The lowest end-of-life collection rate (80%) was for electronics and household appliances. Infrastructure and construction was second at 85% while industrial machinery and transportation topped the list at 90%

Commenting on the study, the ISSF's Director of Economics & Statistics and Long Products (who also led the Team Stainless project), said: "As the focus on sustainability intensifies there is an increasing need to quantifying the material life cycle of stainless steels and their efficiencies from production to fabrication, manufacturing, use, recycling and disposal.  This latest study into stainless steel stocks and flows cycles confirms its high end-of-life recyclability and, in the majority of regions, its high recycled content. This, coupled with stainless steels’ durability and longevity, clearly demonstrates it credentials as a sustainable material of choice.”

You can find out more about the sustainability of stainless steel in previous blog articles on the BS Stainless website. For more informative articles like this, along with lots of other industry news and updates from BS Stainless, please subscribe to our regular newsletter.

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