Steelmaking not only produces steel but a range of material, which is either essential in the steelmaking process or is an unintended result of the production process.
For example, slag is essential in the steel production process as it removes impurities from the steel, allowing it to meet the purity levels and have the properties that our customers demand.
Iron oxide, another steelmaking co-product, either in the form of scales or dust and sludge, on the other hand, results from the processing of the steel in rolling mills or gas cleaning systems.
No matter at what stage of the steelmaking process the co-products are produced, they typically have a value, and they can either be fed back into the steelmaking process or they can serve as useful materials in applications in other industries.
If you are interested in having more details on the many uses and applications of steel industry co-products, I suggest you refer to our Steel industry co-products public policy paper, 2020.
The use of steel industry co-products has many benefits and their use should be encouraged to:
Considering all of the above, it is crucial that policies are in place that enable the sustainable use of co-products. Steelmakers also have a role to play to maximise their use.
Steelmakers need to consider co-products as part of their product portfolio and make sure they produce them in a way that ensures both the properties and quality are consistent and suitable for future use.
The steel industry needs to continuously look to improve the properties of its co-products and try to find new or increasingly beneficial uses. The more precision within the process, the more value will be created.
Many companies are already doing this, but further efforts would have a positive impact on the willingness of potential customers to consider co-products as viable alternatives for their input materials.
With ever greater focus on resource efficiency and circular economy, it will become even more important to do more with less and encourage the full use of industrial co-products.
With joint efforts by policymakers and the steel industry, and an openness of potential customers to consider co-products, we can all make a real difference to the environment.