Why is this important to us ?
A future of nine billion people enjoying high-quality lives will need products that use natural resources in ways that are ultra-efficient and help create what many now the call the circular economy. The context is very different in developed and developing markets, but the answer is the same: innovation. To create and sustain quality lives we need to design more energy-efficient products, using materials that can be re-used and recycled, which can be produced using fewer resources and without negative consequences for the environment or society.
The commercial imperative
What kind of challenges do we face?
Manufacturers have always been able to choose different materials based on their cost, quality, and suitability, but the challenges of sustainability mean that there are other factors at play now. The use of materials in washing machines and food packaging needs to be assessed in terms of their full lifecycle impacts, which makes considerations like weight, recyclability and lifespan key. Years of successful innovation put steel at an advantage here, and the challenge for our industry is to maintain this.
What do we need to do?
We need to promote the use of steel wherever its unique properties can be exploited to a maximum. We have the research to show where steel’s environmental footprint is better than other materials, and we need to use and build on this capability to demonstrate to the manufacturers who use our steel, and society in general, that steel can make a positive contribution over its whole lifecycle.
What is the potential to create value?
Steel is strong, safe, flexible and easily recyclable, which means it can be a big part of the answer to today’s environmental and social challenges. A tonne of steel also produces less CO2 than either aluminium, magnesium or carbon fibre over its whole lifetime, thanks to its infinite recyclability. The high-strength steels we have developed to make cars lighter are a good example of the value we can create. Though the challenges are clear, the opportunities are also extremely significant.