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SSAB in the circular economy

The circular economy refers to a transition from linear business models, in which products are manufactured from raw materials, used and then discarded, to circular business models, where products or parts are repaired, re-used, returned and recycled. A circular economy promotes zero waste in order to create a more sustainable world.

In addition, it promotes innovative design to promote recycling, a reduction in the amount of virgin materials used, and encourages the reuse and recycling of all materials. By having a life-cycle approach and measuring the social, economic and environmental impact at each stage of a product’s life cycle, including end of life, a true circular economy can be applied. In summary, steel products promote the core objective of a circular economy because steel can be re-used over and over without loss of quality.
  
At SSAB, we have defined our approach and core contribution to the circular economy by focusing on four critical areas: Resource efficiency, Repair & Replace, Recycle and Upgrade. By managing these areas in a professional way and constantly strive to improve our performance we will REDUCE our environmental footprint and help combat global climate change.


Resource efficiency

Energy efficiency

Energy efficiency in steel production is a key priority for SSAB. We view it as an opportunity to reduce costs and improve SSAB’s environmental footprint. Energy efficiency in SSAB’s steel production is improved through utilizing process gases and recovered heat to reduce the need for purchased energy, both fuels and electricity.

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SSAB has a target to achieve a lasting reduction of 300 GWh of purchased energy (both electricity and fuels) by the end of 2019, compared to the 2014 baseline.

Read more about SSAB´s sustainability strategy and targets


Material efficiency

To SSAB, material efficiency means making more out of less material, resulting in increased efficiency in the use of natural resources. The production of iron and steel gives rise to a range of residuals. In 2014, 4 million tonnes of residuals were produced at SSAB’s Nordic steel production sites. Recirculating material back into the steelmaking process reduces the need for virgin raw materials. This in turn, reduces CO2 emissions and saves costs. Material that cannot be recirculated internally can be processed into by-products and sold externally to create new revenue streams while reducing CO2 emissions by substituting natural resources in other industries. Increasing internal recirculation of residuals and external sales of by-products leads to reduced waste and less material being sent to landfill.
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Recycled energy flows within SSAB also contribute to increased material efficiency. Gases, steam and hot water produced in the processes are recovered and utilized in other parts of the processes to generate electricity and heat.

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Thanks to its properties, steel can be recycled indefinitely without losing its properties. The utilization of scrap in SSAB’s steel production is also an important part of improving material efficiency in SSAB.

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SSAB has a target to increase the utilization of residuals by improving internal recirculation of material and external sales of by-products. The target is to achieve a lasting reduction of material being sent to landfill by 30,000 tonnes by the end of 2019, compared to the 2014 baseline.

Read more about SSAB´s sustainability targets


CO2-efficiency in steel production

SSAB is one of the most CO2-efficient steel producers in the world, 7% more efficient that European average and 20% more efficient than China. This means that less virgin raw material (iron-ore, coke and coal) is needed to produce our steel.

Read more about SSAB and CO2 efficiency

SSAB has a target to reduce CO2 emissions originating in its steel production. The target is to achieve a lasting reduction of 200,000 tonnes in CO2 emissions by the end of 2019, compared to the 2014 baseline.

Read more about SSAB´s sustainability targets


Repair & Replace

Hardox Wearparts is a network of 160 companies present in more than 55 countries across the world. This network is a leading manufacturer of wear parts and wear services and it is run by SSAB. The business model is based on advising end-users about how they can improve the performance of their machines from a wear perspective and on making high-quality parts from Hardox wearplate produced by SSAB. Hardox’s extreme resistance to wear increases the service lifetime of different types of equipment. This impacts the environment in a number of positive ways. There is less scrapped equipment and waste is reduced. Also the need to manufacture new equipment decreases, which means savings of natural resources and reduced CO2 emissions. Hardox Wearparts serves most industries like, mining and quarrying, construction, cement and concrete, coal and energy, metal works, recycling and agriculture as well as forestry and fishing. 

Read more about Hardox Wearparts

Recycle

Steel is the most recycled material in the world. More steel is recycled than all other recyclable materials combined. Steel is 100% recyclable and its unique properties mean it can be recycled infinitely without loss of properties or performance. A critical element in reducing carbon emissions originating in the steel lifecycle is to optimize steel recycling. However, there is not enough scrap available to satisfy world demand. This means that steel-making from iron ore will continue to play an important role. SSAB’s production in the US is 100% scrap based and in the Nordics approximately 20% scrap is used as a complement to the iron-ore used as raw material. In 2014, an average of 45% scrap was used in SSAB’s production worldwide. 

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Upgrade

Environmental benefits of high strength steels

There are significant environmental benefits to be gained when upgrading to higher-strength steel. High-strength steels are stronger than ordinary steels and consist of structural and wear-resistant steel. Upgrading a vehicle to a higher-strength steel reduces the amount of steel needed. This in turn reduces emissions originating in steel production since less steel needs to be produced and thus less quantities of the resources (iron ore, alloying elements, coke, coal and energy) involved in manufacture are also needed.

Promoting the use of high-strength steel is SSABs greatest contribution to reducing the environmental footprint. The biggest saving potential for CO2 emissions occurs during the use phase. Up to 90% of the reduced environmental impact can be related to the use-phase of lighter vehicles, through reduced fuel consumption which means SSAB has the opportunity to positively impact its value chain downstream.

Vehicles, excavators and cranes made of high-strength structural steels weigh less and increase load and lifting capacity, which in turn cuts their fuel consumption (less transport and lighter vehicle structures), and extends product life-time, thereby also reducing emissions [e.g. Strenx]. Use of wear steel in constructions, machines or vehicles greatly increases their resistance to harsh wear and weather conditions, which in turn increases their useful service life and reduces maintenance needs. This also results in reduced emissions from new steel production [e.g. Hardox]. Use of impact- resistant steels increases the safety of products. These steels are stronger and have greater yield strength, which also means less steel is needed. [e.g. Docol].

 

Read more about benefits of high- strength steels

Strenx performance steel

Hardox wear plate

Docol high strength steel


Product design and innovation

SSAB works in close collaboration with customers during the application and process development phases in order to design more value-added and sustainable products. SSAB’s strength lies in solutions which enhance the customers’ competitiveness and environmental footprint through high-strength steel products and unique knowledge about the characteristics of the steel. [e.g. Knowledge Service Centers and Technical Support]. 


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REDUCE our environmental footprint and combat climate change

Resource efficiency, Repair & Replace, Recycle and Upgrade

At SSAB, we constantly strive to improve our performance related to the four critical areas covered by SSAB´s approach to the circular economy. This helps us to REDUCE our environmental footprint and to combat global climate change – this we believe to be SSAB's core contribution to the circular economy.