The steel industry is a trendsetter in closing material cycles. Recycling plays a decisive role in the production of raw materials and this makes steel a sustainable material with a future.
Most people wouldn’t associate a brand-new car with scrap. But during the automotive production process, scrap material is an indispensable factor, since every new car and its individual parts was once a block of scrap. Unlike other materials, steel is a material that can be recycled again and again with virtually no loss. Used steel products are recycled in various ways and, as a result, become an important part of the production process, over and over again. They become components for the automotive industry, for example, such as tailgate doors used in the production of new cars and replacement parts.
Old becomes new in the “circle of steel”
It all starts with manufacture of steel or special steel: During the production of one ton of crude steel, for example, 250 kilograms of scrap is used. The initial result from the steel plant is the coil, or wound steel strip, from which components for a vast array of car models are manufactured in the press plant.
The end result of the process is structure and exterior body panels such as the tailgate door, as well as replacement parts with which cars can be supplied for another ten to fifteen years.
If the car parts are no longer needed, they can be recycled and reintegrated into the cycle. For this, the various components are broken down with tools made from special steel and are reintroduced as scrap at the start of the process.
Because steel has proven to be such a sustainability wonder in this reprocessing cycle, it is also the most-recycled material worldwide and ensures an excellent ecological assessment across the entire life cycle. There are steel plants in almost every country that reintroduce steel products back into the production process after their useful life is over. This naturally saves energy and resources. As a decisive element in the production process, steel recycling therefore also contributes to avoiding emissions, including those of the damaging greenhouse gas CO2. This is why the “circle of steel” is a key phrase in industrial sustainability. In the future this will become a goal and hopefully a standard as well for the recycling of other materials.