Leading the Way for a Sustainable Future

Climate change and the responsible use of natural resources are among the main challenges in modern society. There is an increasing awareness that product design affects the overall environmental performance and efficiency of a product. Companies making products are paying closer attention to the product’s end-of-life, which is an increasingly important factor for consumers and material specifiers. Steel is a major component material for a wide range of market applications and products, such as in the automotive, construction and packaging and has life cycle advantages over competing materials because of its relatively low energy use, high recyclability, conservation of natural resources and the extensive re-use of by-products. 

 

Steel Is Vital To A Modern, Sustainable Society

The same steel that enables manufacturers to make lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles and taller, safer structures is also the most continuously recycled material in the world. While competing materials focus their sustainability claims on specific phases of product application, steel’s superior sustainability performance minimizes environmental impact when measured through the entire life cycle.

Steel’s contributions to helping achieve the triple bottom line of environmental, economic and societal sustainability make it vital to achieving the needs of today without impacting society’s ability to meet the needs of the future. For example:

  • The steel industry is fundamental to the manufacturing sector and to the overall North American economy—directly and indirectly supporting almost one million U.S. jobs.
  • The steel industry is critical to daily life, domestic infrastructure and national security, providing for more fuel-efficient, safe cars, innovating infrastructure with lighter utility poles and bridges, lowering energy consumption and costs with steel roofing and giving access to nutrition in times of emergency and financial need.
  • Steel advances the quality of life North Americans enjoy through innovation and proven performance through five-star safety rated auto bodies, durable framing for buildings that holds up in high winds, earthquakes and fire and eliminating food waste with pre-measured packaging with a long, stable shelf-life.
  • Codes and standards for steel construction enable designers and builders to utilize more cost-effective and efficient practices, which ultimately improves stakeholders’ bottom line.
  • The steel industry is actively dedicated to meeting society’s needs and advancing environmental stewardship, achieving a 31 percent reduction in energy intensity and a 36 percent reduction in greenhouse gas intensity since 1990.
  • When looking at the energy-intensive production processes of competing materials in the auto sector, vehicles using high-strength steels provide significant reduction in emissions.