Key facts about the world steel industry
Steel: A key driver of the world's economy
- The industry directly employs more than two million people worldwide, with a further two million contractors and four million people in supporting industries.
- Considering steel’s position as the key product supplier to industries such as automotive, construction, transport, power and machine goods, and using a multiplier of 25:1, the steel industry is at the source of employment for more than 50 million people.
- World crude steel production has increased from 851 megatonnes (Mt) in 2001 to 1,548 Mt for the year 2012. (It was 28.3 Mt in 1900).
- World average steel use per capita has steadily increased from 150 kg in 2001 to 215 kg in 2011.
- India, Brazil, South Korea and Turkey have all entered the top ten steel producers list in the past 40 years.
Image courtesy of Principle Power
Steel is at the core of the green economy, in which economic growth and environmental responsibility work hand in hand.
- Steel is the main material used in delivering renewable energy – solar, tidal and wind.
- All steel created as long as150 years can be recycled today and used in new products and applications.
- By sector, global steel recovery rates for recycling are estimated at 85% for construction, 85% for automotive, 90% for machinery and 50% for electrical and domestic appliances. This leads to a global weighted average of over 70%.
- The amount of energy required to produce a tonne of steel has been reduced by 50% in the last 30 years.
- Nowadays, 97% of steel by-products can be reused.
- Figures for water uptake and discharge are close to each other, with any small loss due to evaporation. Water recycled back into rivers and other sources is often cleaner than when extracted.
Steel is everywhere in your life
Steel touches every aspect of our lives. No other material has the same unique combination of strength, formability and versatility.
- Almost 200 billion cans of food are produced each year. Steel cans mean saving energy as refrigeration is not needed. Cans mean tamper-free and safe food, nutritional value and beneficial environmental impact from recycling.
- Steel used for double-hulled capesize vessels delivering raw materials, finished goods and energy must have the highest impact toughness (to withstand constant wave motion), corrosion resistance (from sea water) and weldability (for manufacturing reasons).
- Skyscrapers are made possible by steel. The housing and construction sector is the largest consumer of steel today, using around 50% of world steel production.
- Approximately 25% of an average computer is made of steel. Over 320 million PCs were sold in 2010.
- Steel looks after our health. Steel surfaces are hygienic and easy to clean. Surgical and safety equipment and commercial kitchens are all made with steel.
Safe, innovative and progressive steel
Steel is an innovative and progressive industry committed to the safety and health of its people.
- The industry is committed to the goal of an injury-free workplace.
- The lost-time injury frequency rate has decreased from 5.1 in 2004 to 1.93 in 2011.
- The number of worldsteel member organisations participating in the annual safety metrics survey has increased from 46 in 2005 to 87 in 2011.
- The steel industry globally spends more than €12 billion annually on improving the manufacturing process, new product development and future breakthrough technology.
- New lightweight steel is dramatically changing the market. In 1937, 83,000 tonnes of steel was needed to build the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Today only half of that would be needed.
- Vehicles structures using Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS) weigh up to 35% less than those made with former conventional steel, substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Life cycle thinking
Life cycle assessment (LCA): new solutions for new times.
- Life cycle thinking is vital for the future. Environmental regulations which only regulate one phase (the use phase) of a product’s life cycle can create unintended consequences, such as increased CO2 emissions.
- One example of this is vehicle exhaust or tail pipe regulations which encourage the use of low density materials which are more CO2 intensive to produce.
- LCA considers production, manufacture, the use phase and end-of-life recycling and disposal. Life cycle thinking leads to immediate environmental benefit.
- In addition to CO2, LCA assesses other impacts such as resource consumption, energy demand and acidification.
- LCA is easy to implement, cost effective and produces affordable and beneficial solutions for material decision-making and product design.
- worldsteel developed one of the first global sector databases for life cycle inventory data and invests to keep it current.
Updated: April 2012