The life cycle of steel

Steel is the world’s most recycled material, and it can be recycled time and time again without losing its properties. Due to their durability, steel products have a long useful life and can often be recycled and used in other applications, which saves on resources. SSAB strives to reduce the environmental impact of its steel products in all phases of the life cycle, from raw material extraction to end-of-life recycling.

The life cycle of steel consists of different steps:

  • Purchases of raw materials

  • Steelmaking

  • Circulation of residual products

  • Resource-efficient products

  • Recycling

Purchasing of raw materials

SSAB has a large number of suppliers in different parts of the world. Our biggest purchases are raw materials used in iron and steel production.

Efficient steelmaking

SSAB uses two different processes for steelmaking: iron ore-based production with blast furnaces in Sweden and Finland, and scrap-based production in electric arc furnaces in the USA.

Recirculation of residual products

Whenever possible, residual products formed in steelmaking are recirculated. Recycled steel reduces the environmental impact during the end product’s life cycle. It replaces some of the iron ore as a raw material. Not all residual products can be recirculated in steelmaking. Material flows from production that cannot be recirculated or sold externally are sent to landfill. Residual products are recirculated internally and processed for external sale.

Resource-efficient products

High-strength steel is stronger than ordinary standard steel. This means that less steel is needed in applications, resulting in a lower weight. By using high-strength steels, customers can manufacture products that use less material, are stronger and lighter, and offer improved overall economy. Energy-consuming processes during the usage phase account for a significant element of the environmental impact of steel during its life cycle.

Steel recycling

Steel is the world’s most recycled industrial material, and it is unique in that it retains its properties no matter how many times it is recycled. Recycling scrap in steelmaking saves natural resources, while reducing carbon dioxide emissions. There is currently not enough scrap to meet the demand for steel, which means that the primary steel demand must continue to be met through iron ore-based manufacturing in the future.