2. Products that accelerate more sustainable lifestyles

Achieving more sustainable lifestyles is a shared challenge, and steel has a massive contribution to make. It is already playing a key role, for example in making cars lighter, which reduces carbon emissions, and in providing goods and packaging that are easily recyclable. Its strength, durability, and recyclability make it a vital material to support sustainable lifestyles in everyday products from drinks cans to washing machines.

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.

Our stakeholders’ expectations

Governments, regulators and NGOs are waking up to the need to make our modern lifestyles work with fewer resources and a lower environmental impact. For example, the automotive industry must meet stringent vehicle emissions limits in Europe and the US, so our automotive customers are looking for lighter materials. Manufacturers in industries like white goods and electrical equipment face their own version of these challenges. Meanwhile, regulations requiring the recycling of packaging materials have long been established in Europe and elsewhere. Consumers also have higher expectations, and are more aware of the social and environmental credentials of what they buy. If the price is comparable, many say they prefer the greener alternative. This means that high profile brands are seeing the benefits of being able to prove that their products and their supply chain are independently certified, meet social and labour standards set by multi-stakeholder groups, or can offer a demonstrable carbon benefit.

The outcome we need

Commercial designers and manufacturers, as well as end-users choose steel for products that need strength and durability. They make that choice because they understand steel contributes to more sustainable lifestyles.

Achieving our new outcome

We want all our employees to understand the contribution our products make to sustainable development, so that they understand the need not just for this but all our 10 outcomes.

We are setting up a new research project to examine how the new products in our development pipeline can contribute to more sustainable lifestyles. We will also look at how this will help the manufacturers who buy our steel, as well as their customers and consumers. We need to assess where we can create further value by working in partnership with some of these groups.

What's new?

News 21.09.2016 Steel goes circular: The Circular Building
Our Stories01.05.2016 Steel goes circular: re-using sheet piles
Our Stories01.04.2016 Collaboration on the Great Lakes
Our Stories01.04.2016 Getting on the front foot in Ostrava: dealing with dust
Our Stories01.04.2016 Fertile thinking: farmers benefiting from steel slag
Our Stories01.04.2016 Clearing the air: new products for indoor environments
Our Stories01.04.2016 New ideas, new technology: interns in Argentina
Our Stories01.01.2015 Engineering low-carbon solutions for buildings
Our Stories01.01.2015 Sustain Our Great Lakes
Our Stories01.01.2015 Measuring impact in South Africa
Our Stories01.01.2015 Liberia: Mobilising the response to Ebola
Insight30.05.2015 Steel packaging and the circular economy
SD Update19.01.2017 Gender diversity award for ArcelorMittal Ostrava
SD Update31.10.2016 Moroccan steelmaker heads for 90% wind-powered steel
SD Update10.10.2016 Largest exporter in Bosnia & Herzegovina
SD Update25.09.2016 Judiciary honour for social outreach work in Brazil
SD Update27.06.2016 ArcelorMittal assesses contribution to South Africa
SD Update16.05.2016 Nafta: review of 2015
SD Update13.05.2016 How does ArcelorMittal create value for society?
SD Update03.12.2015 Presenting lightweight solutions at Megatrends India
SD Update12.11.2015 The building you can build again and again
SD Update30.07.2015 Building for the future: the b home