On a local level, steel companies manage the environmental impacts of their businesses. For example, they try to reduce the amount of water they use and make sure that the water that goes back into the environment from the steel plant is clean. They also ensure that biodiversity and air quality is not threatened by the plants' activities.
Proper water management is part of an effective Environmental Management System. It also plays a critical role in the viability of steel plants, especially in regions of water scarcity. Water issues and how they are managed at specific plants vary greatly due to local aspects such as water availability, water quality, plant configuration and legislation.
Within the steel industry there are examples of how companies have created nature reserves for threatened species, developed reef materials based on steelmaking by-products and encouraged employees to join nature conservation initiatives.
Across the globe, extensive reclamation and afforestation and reforestation programmes are converting mines and quarries into habitats for local wildlife. Some steel producers engage with local communities to encourage the sustainable use of forests as a source of livelihood.
A key aspect of steel industry environmental protection is to minimise emissions to the air. Emission sources are mapped and monitored. Process improvements can then be identified and implemented with the goal of reducing emissions.
Control mechanisms to reduce emissions can include:
worldsteel leads working groups covering various aspects of air quality to facilitate improvements and the spread of best practice throughout the industry.