We as voestalpine Group view the circular economy on three levels: end products, voestalpine products, and our processes.
Whether processing scrap as a raw material, using slag in the cement industry, or extracting waste heat, the voestalpine Group as a whole is engaged in numerous activities which promote the circular economy. At all times, we comply with EU requirements and are guided by the national circular economy strategy and the demands of our customers.
Holistic concept combines external and internal perspectives
The political, social, and economic environment as well as our strategic and operational goals require a holistic view of the circular economy on three levels:
- Circular economy from the external or stakeholder perspective and with respect to end products
- Circular economy from the internal perspective with respect to our products
- Circular economy from the internal perspective at the process level
At all three levels, our goal is to close loops and slow down cycles in order to conserve resources and secure the raw material supply, and ultimately to contribute to climate and environmental protection. Some of the ways we achieve this goal is by
- Using our own and third-party scrap
- Recycling products, such as repairing used turnouts
- Using renewable energy sources – Extracting and exploiting waste heat, e.g., at voestalpine Tubulars in Kindberg
- Using by-products such as blast furnace slag and steel mill dust for cement production or the zinc industry
In 2021 our recycling rate for iron was 27.3%. 24 kilograms of hazardous and 138 kilograms of non-hazardous waste were generated per ton of product. We are trying to continuously improve these figures while maintaining product quality.
Clear mandate for research and development
Research and development (R&D) play a central role in promoting the circular economy. R&D is an important link between sustainability and our products and services. Its task is to identify and develop future and new circular economy potential in our companies and divisions. Key topics include the treatment and reuse of metallurgical by-products and optimizing scrap characterization. Our researchers are also intensively working on sensible CO2 recycling.
Economical as well as ecological
Apart from sustainability concerns, the circular economy can also fulfill our profitability requirements as a publicly listed company, because maximizing the recycling and recovery of materials also offers an economic advantage.
"The circular economy is a Group-wide topic that employees from all divisions are familiar with. There is a strong interaction between climate strategy/decarbonization and the circular economy."
"The circular economy is a key element on the path to a sustainable and climate-neutral steel industry. That is why our R&D activities also focus heavily on the circular economy."
Our path to a green future
We are upping the pace of emissions reduction. greentec steel from voestalpine is Austria’s largest climate protection program. Starting in 2027, this program will reduce Austria’s annual CO2 emissions by almost 5%. 2024 marks the start of the partial shift from the blast furnace to the electric arc furnace (EAF) route—once unresolved funding issues in Austria are clarified.