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Material efficiency

Emissions from steel production are controlled and can be further reduced by continuously improving material and energy efficiency in the processes. Material efficiency means making more out of less material, resulting in increased efficiency in the use of natural resources. The production of iron and steel gives rise to a range of residuals. Recirculating material back into the steelmaking process reduces the need for virgin, raw materials which reduces CO2 emissions and waste. Material that cannot be recirculated internally can be processed into by-products and sold externally, creating new revenue streams as well as reducing CO2 emissions by substituting natural resources in other industries.

Recirculation of material within SSAB’s steelmaking process

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Recirculation of material within SSAB’s steelmaking process

Recirculation of material back into the steelmaking processes reduces the need for virgin raw materials and decreases production costs.

SSAB’s steel production gives rise to a number of valuable residuals that can be recirculated. Out of a total of around 4 million tonnes of residuals from ore-based production in the Nordics in 2014, 47% were recirculated back to SSAB’s steel production processes. As an example, the new sludge drying method was brought into use in Luleå in 2014 resulted in over 12,000 tonnes of basic oxygen steelmaking sludge being turned into briquettes for use as a raw material instead of being landfilled. In addition, almost 8,000 tonnes of ladle slag originating in the continuous casting process in Luleå were used as raw material in the blast furnace instead of being landfilled. In Raahe, desulfurization slag and part of ladle slag are utilized in internal infrastructure construction. Development work is being done to maximize internal use of the metal component separated from slag. Today already, most of this ferrous material from slag is used internally.

Recycling scrap tires in Alabama

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Recycling scrap tires in Alabama

In Alabama, SSAB Americas has had a scrap tire recycling program that utilizes scrap tires as a substitute material for the carbon used for charging in the electric arc furnace (EAF).

Since 2003, SSAB has recycled more than 5 million scrap tires. The program also supports SSAB’s Foundation for Education. For ten years, SSAB has made donations of $100,000 a year to local schools for the purchase of key supplies and equipment, all as a direct result of the cost savings from the scrap tire recycling program.

External sales of by-products

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External sales of by-products

Not all material can be recirculated in steel production. In some cases, new revenue streams are created by processing material into by-products to be sold externally.

For example, blast furnace slag is sold to the road construction and cement industries. In 2014, 32% of the residuals from the ore-based steel production were processed into by-products and sold externally.

Waste management and landfill

There are residuals from production processes for which there is no current environmentally or economically justifiable application. These residuals must therefore be removed from the processing cycle. At SSAB, this type of waste includes flue gas sludge that cannot be utilized due to its physical and chemical characteristics. Management and monitoring of the company’s landfill sites are strictly regulated by the law and government authorities. Deposited waste must be handled in such a way that these resources, too, might be utilized in the future. SSAB Americas does not own or operate waste transportation equipment or landfills, and deals only with government-approved landfills. Before waste is classified as landfill material, thorough testing and classification is carried out by a specialized third party contractor.

Merox – with a focus on sustainability

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Merox – with a focus on sustainability

In the Nordic region, SSAB’s business Merox, works to optimize the value of SSAB´s by-products, scrap and waste with a focus on sustainability and value creation.

Merox’s operations cover the whole value chain from R&D and production to marketing and sales. The operations primarily consist of three parts; recirculation of materials to SSAB production, processing and selling products externally and managing waste that cannot be recirculated or processed into new products. This includes the handling of material sent to landfill in the Nordics. Merox delivers products globally and has six production facilities in Sweden and Finland. In 2014, Merox handled around 4 million tonnes of residuals; 47% was recirculated, 6% was used for internal construction, 32% was sold externally, 9% was put into temporary storage and 6% was sent to landfill.