The Spanish steel industry´s export efforts have enabled this sector to recycle 10.6 million tons of scrap in 2014, of which 5 million are imported, making the country one of Europe’s great leaders in steel recycling along with Italy and Germany, and the first in Spain by volume over all other recycled materials.
According to data by UNESID, the business association of the Spanish steel industry, this industry has sufficient capacity to recycle all steel scrap generated in the country and it also adds value to 5 million tons of scrap metal imported from abroad offering a total environmental guarantee and making out of it a staggering total of 10.6 million in 2014.
Steel production in Spain was 14.2 million tons last year, with a domestic consumption of 10.5 million tons and net exports of 1,670 million euro benefitting the Spanish trade balance. This was so even despite aggressive imports from third countries, mainly China, where steel is produced under industrial conditions that have nothing to do with the strict environmental controls in our country and with considerable higher resources consumption.
The steel is 100% recyclable
In Spain, more steel is recycled than the sum of the remaining materials together. So for UNESID, it is a market with undeniable environmental and economic benefits within an environmentally friendly and committed to safety cycle, which is possible thanks to the awareness of all the chain operators.
Steel is a material with recycling yields of almost 100%, its performance in the recycling process is comparable to that of the noble metals and its magnetic properties facilitate its recovery very easily, regardless if it is collected with other materials or separately, thus ensuring that virtually all of the available steel is recycled.
An industry in the circular economy
Steel is a naturally occurring material; 8% of the earth’s crust is iron oxide and 5% is iron.
Steel recycling entails savings of up to 80% in energy, 85% in water and 95% in coal, allowing emission reductions of 80%. With this optimization, in the last twenty years and increasing production by 50%, the Spanish steel industry was reduced its global greenhouse gas emissions by 50%.
For the sector’s employers, this industry is a clear example of circular economy, it responds to the model and applies its principles to convert waste into resources; it recycle its products, interacts with other sectors to maximize all by-products, such as steel slag (arid, cement component, addition of concrete, etc.), obtains raw materials such as zinc from its own deposits of dust, which also help keep the atmosphere clean, and continually improves the already alluded interaction with other sectors through innovation and search for synergies.
Over 150 years of life
Less than a year ago, we reported that UNESID had developed a video to tell, in an informative way, the infinite lives of steel allowing its continuous recycling without losing any of its qualities by adjusting its properties to the society’s needs with each new steel in each new cycle.
Steel can be recycled again and again, indefinitely, to the point that today steel manufactured more than 150 years ago is still being recycled. The steel industry completes the cycle, recycling the scrap collected and manufacturing steel with it, to be used in new products that contribute to our quality of life.