Let’s talk about steel and its sustainability performance reporting
Employees of the steel industry received an average of 7 training days in 2016. An average of 1.9 tonnes of CO2 was emitted for every tonne of crude steel in 2016. These are two out of the eight sustainability indicators that we have reported in our 2017 Sustainable Steel publication that was released earlier this week.
Numbers often have an important story to tell but what do these figures really say about the steel industry? Are 7 training days per year enough to foster the greater innovation that is required to take the industry to the next level? Is 1.9 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of steel produced too high for an industry to emit? These are questions that no one can clearly answer as without context the data itself does not have much meaning.
Our sustainability performance data tells a more meaningful story if it is read and evaluated in conjunction with the industry’s performance over the previous years and in the context of the current social, environmental and economic situation the industry is in. For example, a lost time injury frequency rate of 1.0 in 2016 does not give a real sense of where the industry is in its safety performance, but when looked at with the data 10 years ago, a remarkable improvement of about 78% since 2006 would be noticed. The level of CO2 emissions has not changed much over a decade. This is not because the industry has not made enough investment and effort, but because the majority of these emissions are mostly due to the chemistry of steelmaking and cannot be significantly improved with current technology.
Why do we collect this data?
This annual industry-wide data collection involves hundreds of people and takes tremendous time and effort from steel companies and associations worldwide. Reporting is voluntary yet, in 2017 125 steel companies and 6 steel associations participated in the data collection. In fact, steel is one of very few industries which reports such data at a global level.
Why do we do it? What do we want to communicate? ‘Openness will make the steel industry stronger and more sustainable’, Paolo Rocca, President and CEO, Techint Group shares his insights. Measuring is the starting point of making progress and reporting is the crucial part of being open and transparent, both of which are essential for the steel industry to remain sustainable.
What needs to be done?
Measuring and reporting this data is not enough. No value is created by measuring and reporting if no action is taken. ‘The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river.' – H. Ross Perot. The goal of our sustainability reporting is to encourage steel companies to become the activists who not only monitor performance but also take appropriate actions to foster progress and improvement. This will make them more sustainable and competitive, which will ultimately make the industry more sustainable. We take our sustainability commitment and responsibility seriously and we should walk the talk and prove it.