“A sustainable circular economy is one in which society reduces the burden on nature by ensuring that resources can be used for as long as possible.” Efficient recycling of resources has long been a major concern for us here at the High Performance Metals (HPM) Division. For this reason, the circular economy represents a key field of action for us, which we would like to develop further as one of the four supporting pillars in our sustainability framework inSPire.
HPM supplies industries that rely on high-performance steel and other high-performance materials. These include the automotive and aerospace industries, the energy sector, mechanical engineering, consumer goods, and special applications. We aim to ensure reliable supplies to our customers in a sustainable way long into the future. For us, this means a shift from a linear to a circular economy, which involves keeping resources in circulation for as long as possible instead of constantly using new ones. In addition to the obvious environmental benefits, an efficient circular economy can also support a supply of raw materials that is independent of global political developments.
One of steel’s major strengths is that it can be recycled again and again without any loss of quality. This holds enormous potential for saving resources as well as CO2. To secure the supply of critical raw materials in the future, we are constantly working on new ways to recycle various materials. These efforts are not new to the Group — for many years now, our subsidiaries have been working on the circular economy as part of various projects. This not only saves cost and allows us to protect against possible supply bottlenecks, but also helps us to operate responsibly in the interests of future generations.
The field of the circular economy covers a wide range of topics and measures. We want to utilize resources to their full potential, which is why we are pursuing projects in multiple areas — always with the goal of an efficient circular economy in mind.
Reduce, reuse, remanufacture, recycle — these are the four magic words of the circular economy in the steel industry. We at the HPM Division also base our activities on these pillars identified by the World Steel Association.
The Circular Economy Team helps to further strengthen cooperation between the individual companies within the HPM Division. It also identifies potential new recycling routes for various materials and provides a platform where experts in different fields can come together.
After a detailed analysis phase together with experts from the division, four major fields of action in the circular economy area were identified within the framework of inSPire:
We are working in a variety of ways to meet this target and are also using state-of-the-art technologies to further develop this field of action. Additionally, we are reviewing the recycling of end-of-life tools (EOL tools) in order to be able to recover raw materials from old tools in the future.
We therefore choose alternative and secondary input materials (where possible). This includes, for example, the recycling of batteries or grinding sludge from our customers. In the long term, we would like to replace a significant portion of our primary raw materials with secondary raw materials in this area as well.
In this context, we attach great importance to sensibly combining and recycle any waste generated, and to keep valuable metals contained in EAF (electric arc furnace) dust, for example, within the company for further processing.
We have already reported more on our fields of action HERE.
For us, ecological sustainability and economic success go hand in hand. We see it as our responsibility and a great opportunity to initiate and actively pursue effective changes in the resource-intensive sector of the steel industry. The introduction of the circular economy has a great deal of potential to achieve improvements throughout the supply chain and thus both act in a more ecologically sustainable way and save costs.
Our long-term priority is the sustainable supply of key materials while maintaining low working capital. We always strive to offer our customers products of the highest quality. We attach great importance to a good customer relationship, since close cooperation often opens new doors to jointly develop circular economy systems and, as a result, reduces the carbon footprint of products. Environmental protection has always been a top priority for us.
For example, we operate in accordance with international environmental and energy management standards such as ISO 14001 and ISO 50001 in our plants. We also pursue a reduction of our disposed waste with the help of state-of-the-art waste management measures that bring us even closer to our goal of achieving zero waste. By means of process and product developments, we are continuing to anchor circular economy principles more deeply within HPM and communicate them to the outside world via our customers and partners.
Such a comprehensive, challenging topic requires a strong team: The colleagues have dedicated themselves to the Circular Economy Division and are drawing from their breadth of diverse knowledge to make our use of resources and key materials more sustainable. The team aims not only to drive the development of the circular economy within HPM, but also to inspire other stakeholders to keep critical raw materials in circulation for as long as possible in order to ensure future supply. You can read more about the team, their day-to-day work, and how they work together HERE.
And because knowledge grows when it is shared, we are planning internal company trainings on the topic of the circular economy in the future. As a first step, we want to create awareness for measures such as recycling and provide our employees with tools that can be used in their everyday lives.
HPM has long been aware of the relevance and great potential of the circular economy for ecological and economic sustainability. The circular economy field of action therefore drives the recycling of critical raw materials and other resources. It provides space for exchange and supports cooperation between the individual companies. Complex problems are also dealt with jointly. In this way, we can benefit from a real synergy and drive sustainable policy forward both within HPM and together with external partners.
 Source: World Steel Association; https://worldsteel.org/circulareconomy/