South American steelmaker Gerdau began its Base of the Pyramid (BOP) project in 2007 in partnership with public sector and non-profit organisations. Through BOP, Gerdau aimed to formalise scrap recycling activities in Brazil, Chile, Peru, and Uruguay. In these countries, scrap collectors have traditionally worked independently, in poor conditions, and without access to protective equipment or social security.
During the project, over 1,200 scrap collectors received training to develop their technical and management skills. The BOP team also strengthened cooperation and communication between the different recycling stakeholders and contributed to public policy debates at both the local and national levels.
In the cities where BOP was implemented, approximately 1,630 tonnes of waste are now correctly recycled or disposed of each year. The economic, social, and environmental benefits speak for themselves. Between 2011 and 2013, scrap collection grew by 228 percent a year while the average income of the scrap collectors rose by 155 percent.
Over 70 disused ships are temporarily moored at Moroccan ports, hampering trade and posing an environmental hazard. With such a large stock of unused steel floating in harbours, ArcelorMIttal's Moroccan steelmaker Sonasid began to explore the option of establishing a local ship-breaking industry.
Beginning with a pilot project to dismantle a vessel in 2012, Sonasid was able instil international social and environmental standards in the local industry from the start. It also gave the company a chance to gauge the scale of the operation. Preparatory work on the ship-breaking unit began in 2013 with the goal of starting activity by 2015. Sonasid will work in conjunction with a global ship-breaking operator and use the salvaged scrap in its own operations.
Sonasid’s use of scrap as a raw material is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 0.8 tonnes for every tonne of steel produced. By limiting the distance the scrap needs to be transported, another 3,000 tonnes of CO2 will be saved each year.
The dismantling process will ensure the development of an environmentally positive solution for end-of-life ships. It will reduce the risk of environmentally hazardous substances such as oil escaping and polluting the coast and waterways. The project also has economic benefits for Morocco, and widespread social benefits to local communities.