Why is this important to us?
Every aspect of the way resources are used is now under question – from manufacture, to product design, to how goods and services are ‘owned’. Global commentators are predicting a shift towards a new type of economy in which everything is recycled or re-used and nothing, be it raw materials or energy resources, is wasted.
The commercial imperative
What kind of challenges do we face?
Steel products can be infinitely recycled and productively re-used, which makes them ideal components of a circular economy. At the same time, global supplies of scrap are limited, so we must ensure that all steel products are made in ways that maximise their sustainability benefits over their entire lifecycle. However, steel’s lifecycle benefits are not always understood and so competition mounts from materials such as aluminium, concrete and carbon fibre, which cannot be recycled as easily or extensively. There may also be challenges and opportunities for us springing from the new business models that are emerging as part of the circular economy. This is a complex issue, and such challenges and their solutions may have profound implications for us and our stakeholders.
What do we need to do?
We need to further innovate our production processes for efficient resource use; to work more with stakeholders to drive up recycling rates around the world until no steel ever goes to landfill; and to ensure that steel’s infinite recyclability is appreciated whenever the sustainability of different materials is assessed – over their entire lifecycle. We need to determine where steel is better placed than other materials to deliver what a circular economy demands. To stay ahead of the curve, we need to work with customers and clients to anticipate the shift towards circular economy thinking. Together, we need to innovate, for example, construction products that facilitate recycling, durable products for lease rather than sale, and business models that make it easier to recover and re-use materials than to use and discard them.
What is the potential to create value?
We have the skills to lead the creation of a whole new generation of resource-efficient, re-usable steel products for a circular economy. We intend to be at the forefront of this transition, building on our proven forward-thinking capabilities in innovation and R&D. By creating this long-term competitive advantage for our business and our investors, we can also deliver a wider good for our stakeholders. This must be coupled with our work towards our other outcomes, if we are to realise the full contribution we can make to sustainable development.