Recycling: Bringing back the UK Steel Industry

Recycling: Bringing back the UK Steel Industry
Recycled steel - The Steel industry

Recycling can Act as Lifesaver for the UK Steel Industry According to a Report

Most of us are aware that steel is a completely recyclable metal and has the most unproblematic packaging material in the whole world to recycle. Therefore, it is most suitable for packaging all kinds of pet food, aerosols, drinks and other food items.

What is noteworthy here is that if steel were used as a material for drink cans in the UK, the energy that could be saved would be equal to the amount required to keep every home lit for several weeks.

According to a report published by the Professor of Engineering and the Environment at the University of Cambridge, Julian Allwood, if the UK wishes to stay globally competitive for next 30 years, its steel industry must transform.

In accordance with another report, the UK can reduce up to 75% of its emissions by shifting from emissions-intensive Blast Furnace production to EAF (Electric Arc Furnace) production. This method is energy-efficient since renewable items power it, unlike the Blast Furnace that requires imported iron ore and is powered by coal. The shift will utilise the quickly rising volumes of scrap metal that will provide new jobs in the areas.

While the demands of the nation are 15 million tonnes of steel per year, the UK produces around 7 million tonnes of it every year domestically. Moreover, 10 million tonnes of scrap is generated per annum but less than 20% of it is recycled. If the rest, which is exported to other countries like Pakistan, Spain and India, were recycled in the UK itself, the manufacturers would reap great benefits.

If the leftover 80% of steel is recycled in the UK, the nation will also get a completely new sector of industries while providing employment to more people.

With the development of technology, the UK is likely to meet its needs of steel in the near future without any requirements of iron ore.

Although the EAFs do not achieve the quality levels as compared to Blast Furnace, they are greener and less-energy intensive.

The ability to produce such high-grade metal domestically is important for a nation’s defence capability. The metal is used for more or less everything in the military, like tanks, guns, ships, and aeroplanes.

The main factor that stops the nation from removing plants that use blast furnace is that many people are involved in the industry that is skilled and highly paid. Once these plants are shut, they will be unemployed, affecting the UK’s economy.

The steel industry of the UK is troubled by various factors like extra costs of climate change policies, high UK energy prices, and even competition from China.

The climate strategy of the UK may have a limited effect in the reduction of CO2 emissions of the steel industry unless the UK shifts to the production of more of its own steel products through domestic secondary-steel making. This choice will result in an augmentation of the UK supply’s security and maintain an extension of UK manufacturing.

The following strategies may help in the reduction of CO2 emissions in the steel industry:

  • Boosting the efficiency of present routes, for instance, via widespread adoption of best technologies that are available or by fuel switching
  • Switching to more proficient manufacture routes

Only three kinds of technologies are likely to be used for steel making in the near future. These include scrap recycling, direct reduction and blast furnaces. The stability of future operation of these technologies will develop as a response to the advancement in the energy sector, environmental policies, investment decisions, global competition and various other economic variables.

Diminishing the demand for steel by products’ lifetime extension can be carried by other strategies comprising of more intensive utilisation of existing steel products (recycle) and less steel by primary production.

The strategies can lessen the CO2 emissions that are associated with steel demand but do not need a decrease in the UK steel production.

They can rather prevent carbon leakage by cutting off the need for steel imports while supporting an expansion of the nation’s manufacturing. This will protect employment both through the evolution of industries like repair and maintenance and steel production.