Recycling advanced high-strength steels (AHSS)

In addition to being incredibly versatile, steel is the ideal automotive material for recycling. Magnets make short work of sorting it from the other shredded materials from scrapped cars. It isn’t essential that the salvaged steel be further sorted: AHSS steels, for example, can be made from 100% scrap steel. Furthermore, the scrap AHSS generated by Tier 1 parts suppliers and auto OEMs (e.g., the steel that is trimmed off or punched out) is valued by recyclers for its very lean composition.

In addition to this recycling versatility, steel can be infinitely recycled without losing its properties, something that cannot be said of many recycled materials. Plastic, for example, can only be recycled once or twice before it is “downcycled” into a lesser product, like fabric.

So it comes as no surprise that steel is the world’s most recycled material, more than all other materials combined. Steel’s global recycling rate for all steel goods is 86%, and for cars it’s 95%.

Aluminum recycling has its limitations

Aluminum, on the other hand, can be difficult to sort from other materials: humans or expensive machine systems are required. Further sorting, to identify different grades of aluminum and their alloys, is needed to preserve their respective recycling value. Impurities in recycled aluminum streams is a major concern. 

Yes, aluminum cans are easy to recycle — to make into other aluminum cans. For critical applications, like passive safety components in automobiles, some OEMs may consider virgin aluminum oxide ore to be a safer feedstock, saving recycled aluminum for their cast products, like engine blocks. So, in theory, aluminum is infinitely recyclable; but in practice, aluminum has its recycling limitations.

But, by all means, recycle your aluminum! It’s embedded CO2 during its original production is more than 6x greater than SSAB steel. So don’t let existing aluminum go to waste.
recycled steel plates

Aluminum lightweighting at steel prices

Automotive designers (and vehicle buyers) need to realize that, in many applications, Docol AHSS can be as light as aluminum, at a fraction of the cost. And, starting in 2026, Docol AHSS can be fossil-free. And, oh yes, AHSS is easily and (truly) infinitely recyclable.

Versatile, strong, long lived, extremely easy to recycle (now and forevermore), and soon to be fossil-free: yes, sustainability may have found its perfect material in SSAB steel.     

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