Steel is the world’s most used metal. Also, it is the number one material used specifically in construction of buildings. Why? Because steel is uniquely positioned with characteristics that simply outlast any other building material. These include hardness, toughness, tensile strength, yield strength, elongation, fatigue strength, corrosion, plasticity, malleability, and creep. This is why it is used in everything from sea vessels to utensils to buildings.
It is not only amazingly versatile, with multiple thousands of end-uses, steel is incredibly, and perhaps surprisingly, green. In fact, your knife and fork could very well have come from the steel hull of an old battleship!
Imagine the pollution and overall effects on the environment resulting from original steel production:
- Steel requires mined raw inputs. Underground, hard-rock mining occurs for both iron ore and coal, which tears apart mountains or digs down miles underground. The product must be refined to a purity level at high temperature and using tons of water. Then, it must be barged, or shipped, to customers. Air is polluted through the entire process, and there are mountains of slag that result from these processes.
- To produce the actual steel, one needs a blast furnace that reaches 1,700 degrees C. This is a phenomenal use of heat energy.
- Virgin steelmaking is one of the most carbon emission intensive industries in the world. As of 2020, steelmaking is estimated to be responsible for 9 per cent of all direct, global fossil fuel greenhouse gas emissions.
Steel is one of a very few man-made materials that is 100% recyclable which is why steel scrap is rarely wasted or dumped in landfills. Because it is made to be so strong, steel lasts and lasts. Scrap steel is always recovered from any demolition and is separated, re-melted, and re-formed. The process uses less energy, no water, less air and zero added raw materials (coal, iron, etc.) than new steel. Recycled steel has precisely the same strength characteristics as virgin steel from which it came.
- For every ton of steel that is recycled, we save 1.5 tons of iron ore, half a ton of coal, 75% of the energy and 40% of the water needed for original steel production.
- Air pollution is also reduced by 76% and water pollution by 80% when recycling steel.
- Not to mention virgin steel produces one and one quarter tons of solid waste resulting from that process, which does not occur when recycling steel.
Recycling just makes economic and environmental sense.
Every piece of the steel used in BC Steel Buildings is 100% recycled.