Our challenge

Our customers, investors, employees and communities increasingly want to work with a company that can foresee their needs, and increasingly this is about sustainable development. Therefore, when we design improvements to our products or our processes, we must make them inherently more sustainable. With nothing less than a transformation of our society needed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, we must design solutions for low-carbon mobility, households and infrastructure, whilst using less raw materials, producing less emissions and ensuring all by-products are reusable.

Using our Sustainability Innovation tool, our target is to ensure 100% of new R&D product and process projects make positive contributions to sustainable development.

Our approach

R&D investment: As a core strength of our business, we invest over $250m each year in research and development. Our team of 1300 experts work in 12 different centres across the world to develop new steel solutions to enable more sustainable infrastructure and lifestyles. With a passion for innovation, a keen understanding of our customer expectations, and an eye on long term trends, our researchers pursue both continuous improvement to drive cost, energy, water and material efficiencies, and breakthrough technologies to transform the way we make steel.

Innovation: Both the products we launch to our customers, and the processes that lie behind their manufacture, are the outcome of many years of innovation. Our global R&D team focuses on the following areas:

  • Breakthrough low-emissions steelmaking technologies to address Climate Change.
  • Digitalisation, using big data, analytics and robotics to drive efficiencies across every aspect of the business, from maintenance to safety, defect recognition and quality assurance to 3D printing.
  • Automotive innovation, with a focus on electric vehicle solutions design.
  • Breakthrough construction solutions, housed in our Steligence® division.
  • Product sustainability data underpinning our global R&D programme, through use of our Sustainability Innovation tool, lifecycle assessments and environmental product declarations.

“I believe the only way to predict the future is to invent it” Greg Ludkovsky, Vice-president, Global R&D

Sustainability Innovation tool: Our R&D team apply a bespoke Sustainable Innovation (SI) tool to all new research projects, ensuring that each element of our evolving product portfolio provides added social and environmental benefits. The tool enables our researchers to test new proposals for their potential impact on sustainable development. Ultimately, any that do not make a positive contribution will not be progressed, ensuring that we create a pipeline of products with proven sustainability benefits. This approach means that R&D plays a vital role in supporting our strategic focus on developing high added value (HAV) products that contribute to our 10 SD outcomes.

Lifecycle assessment: Our expertise in lifecycle assessment (LCA) is a major asset when it comes to innovation, enabling the choices that ensure new product designs have a positive net social and environmental impact. Looking not only at a product’s use phase, but also at their end-of-life and recycling phase.

The greenhouse emissions emitted over the lifecycle of a typical steel aerosol can – including production, transport and recycling –  are half those for a typical aluminum aerosol can, despite the steel can weighing more than its aluminium equivalent. And when it comes to land, water and resource use, steel fares better than glass, laminate and carton food packaging. (ArcelorMittal lifecycle study, 2019)