Is Steel Environmentally Sustainable?
As global temperatures rise, natural disasters become more and more common, drought plagues much of the country, and resources become more valuable, many individuals and businesses alike are asking themselves: How can we be more sustainable? For businesses in the construction, manufacturing, and steel service center industries, amongst others, there may be the question of whether or not steel is environmentally sustainable. Here’s a brief overview of the sustainability of steel and what you should know about using recycled steel—
Is Steel Sustainable?
When it comes to building materials, steel is by far one of the most sustainable materials. That being said, exactly how sustainable a steel product is depends on where that steel came from and how it was sourced.
How steel is sourced
Nearly all metals are sourced through mining, as they originate from metal ore that is found in the earth’s crust. Once ore is mined, it is processed to create the finished metals that are then used in manufacturing, building, etc.
Is steel recyclable?
One of the key things about steel that makes it sustainable is that it can be infinitely recycled without losing its strength or durability. Indeed, new or virgin steel is not sustainable; there is no need for new metal mining when recycled steel is available. Metal mining is inherently destructive—it destroys habitat, has high water and energy demands, releases dangerous toxins and chemicals, and puts people, animals, and the planet at risk of harm. On the other hand, recycled steel is equally as strong and high-quality as virgin steel and is much better for the planet. While recycling steel does still require some processing—which means that there are emissions associated with steel recycling—it uses far less energy, can be localized, and completely eliminates the need for new metal mining.
Where You Buy Your Steel Matters
If you’re looking for ways to green your sustainability impact, where you buy your materials, including steel and other metal products—and how you dispose of them when you’re finished—matters. For designers and builders, metals like steel are durable, long-lasting, and beautiful—a far superior option to other materials. If you need to purchase metals, purchasing from a local steel supplier helps to reduce your carbon footprint; buying recycled steel is even better. And, importantly, if you have scrap metal or steel or other metal products that have reached the end of their useful life, metal recycling is a must. Never send metal materials to the landfill!