Recycling is an integral part of our process for developing new products. Whenever our global research and development (R&D) division designs a new product, it ensures that it uses steel in a way that is recyclable and will not have a negative environmental impact. This is especially important for integrated products that contain other materials as well as steel, such as those for the automotive and construction industries.
We also work with customers on recycling to establish the long term environmental benefits of steel as an endlessly recyclable material. And we work with customers and policymakers to ensure that distortions are not created by simply requiring increased recycled content for steel products, which in practice is more likely to shift the type of steel production than lead to an increase in scrap recycling, due to the constraints on global scrap availability.
We're already one of the biggest recyclers of steel in the world, recycling around 30 million tonnes every year. We do this mainly via the electric arc furnace steelmaking route, but we also use some scrap in the basic oxygen furnace.
Our global R&D division includes a dedicated scrap team with leading-edge knowledge and capabilities in steel recycling that works closely with colleagues from across the business to optimise our approach and improve our knowledge. For example, our R&D centre in Maizières, France, works on processes that will help recover scrap more effectively from mixed waste streams containing steel. Although average recycling rates are very high, it’s vital to identify and tackle the obstacles to recycling industry-wide, and our global R&D team is working on a number of projects to improve recycling with worldsteel.
We have had a packaging recycling research team in Europe since the early 1990s, and we started working with municipalities in France to improve recycling rates for steel packaging long before other materials companies did anything similar. Our work has enabled even the smallest and most isolated areas to have their steel packaging recycled, and it has ensured that steel recycling has contributed to both regional and national economies. We're encouraging governments and regulators to make better provision for recovering scrap.