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Environmental life-cycle comparisons of steel production and recycling: sustainability issues, problems and prospects

Yellishetty, Mohan, Mudd, Gavin M., Ranjith, P.G., Tharumarajah, A.
Environmental science & policy 2011 v.14 no.6 pp. 650-663
ecosystem services, environmental assessment, greenhouse gas emissions, industry, issues and policy, prices, recycling, regression analysis, steel
This paper reports on historical analysis of the steel industry in which crude steel production trends are quantified for the period from 1950 to 2006. On the basis of this analysis, the future production of steel for the world is estimated using regression analysis. The historical analysis shows that the world steel production increased from 187Mt to 1299Mt in that period. In addition, the paper also reports on historical (1950–2006) steel scrap consumption and was compared with crude steel and electric arc furnace (EAF) steel production. Since 1950, scrap consumption by steel industry worldwide has been growing at 12% per annum whereas the EAF share of steel production has been increasing at 66% per annum. Furthermore, since 1987 iron ore prices have increased at 24% per annum whereas scrap prices have grown by 13% per annum. From the analysis on environmental benefits of steel recycling, it was established that there are numerous advantages of scrap utilisation. The major environmental benefits of increased scrap usage comes from the very fact that production of one tonne of steel through the EAF route consumes only 9–12.5GJ/tcs, whereas the BOF steel consumes 28–31GJ/tcs and consequently enormous reduction in CO₂ emissions. In addition, a discussion on various alloying elements in steel and their presence in residual concentrations in the scrap on steel properties is also presented. Finally, this paper presents a discussion on policy issues that could enhance the use of scrap in steel-making is also presented.