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Can structural steel be recycled?

Can structural steel be recycled? The simple answer is yes, which is why structural steel and Kelly Steel are playing their parts in a green future.

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If you’re like most people, you try to do the right thing around the home to make the world more sustainable. Whether by taking the time to separate recyclables from general waste, composting, switching to LED bulbs, reducing water usage in your home or growing your own herbs.

Structural steel fabricators are also doing their bit in the quest for a more sustainable future. While the manufacturing of structural steel demands substantial energy consumption, this metal’s environmental impact is significantly mitigated because it can be recycled over and over again.

In this blog, we’ll look at the recyclability of structural steel, how it’s recycled and the sustainability benefits. We’ll also tell you about some well-known examples of structures that have been built using recycled structural steel.

Structural steel is along for the ride to a greener future!

Structural steel’s endless recyclability

Structural steel is a versatile and durable material that’s used right across the globe to build skyscrapers, other buildings, bridges, and so much more.

On the surface, you might not consider structural steel to be a sustainable material. After all, it requires relatively significant resources and energy consumption to produce.

However, there is a big silver lining. Structural steel, like other steel products, is highly recyclable. In fact, it’s endlessly recyclable.

A steel beam can be turned into another steel beam, or it could become a column in a new skyscraper, trusses in a modern commercial building, a column, an angle, a girder, or a truck frame.

It’s not just possible. It’s happening today, with the majority of structural steel in use being recycled to make new products.

This makes structural steel a sustainable and environmentally responsible choice for builders, architects, designers and the construction industry. 

The recycling of structural steel

How is structural steel recycled?

In simple terms, recycling structural steel involves collecting, processing, and reusing steel products at the end of their service life. This diverts them from landfills and reduces the demand for new steel production.

The recycling process usually begins with the collection of steel from demolition sites or recycling centres. This steel is then transported to a recycling facility, where it undergoes a meticulous sorting and processing phase. 

Advanced technologies, such as magnets and shredders, help separate steel from other materials. Once sorted, the steel is melted down in a furnace, and the molten metal is shaped into new steel products.

Endless energy savings

The cycle of recycling structural steel can be repeated indefinitely without compromising the quality or strength of the steel. The ability to recycle structural steel not only conserves natural resources but also significantly reduces energy consumption compared to producing steel from raw materials.

Here are some other reasons to celebrate the environmental benefits of structural steel:

  • More steel is recycled globally every year than any other material.
  • Recycling steel reduces resources and conserves significant energy. For example, making steel cans from recycled steel uses 75 percent less energy than manufacturing them from raw materials.
  • Recycling 1 kilogram of steel prevents the release of 2 kilograms of greenhouse gases.
  • For every tonne of recycled steel, we save 1131 kilograms of iron ore, 633 kilograms of coal and 54 kilograms of limestone.

Notable example of structures built with recycled structural steel

  1. One Bryant Park, New York, also known as the Bank of America Tower. Completed in 2009, this 55-story skyscraper incorporates recycled structural steel.
  2. The Eden Project in Cornwall, United Kingdom, is an iconic structure that features unique domes that were constructed using recycled structural steel. 
  3. In London, The Crystal is a sustainable city initiative that serves as a global hub for urban sustainability. The striking structure utilised recycled steel in its construction to align. The Crystal’s mission is to promote sustainable practices and showcase cutting-edge technologies for urban development.
  4. The National Museum of Australia in Canberra stands as a testament to both cultural heritage and environmental responsibility. The museum’s construction incorporated recycled structural steel, emphasising its commitment to sustainable practices. 
  5. Southern Cross Station in Melbourne used recycled structural steel to achieve its modern design. This includes the station’s soaring roof, characterised by its undulating wave design. 
  6. The Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre, host to international tennis events, features structures constructed with recycled steel. The use of recycled materials aligns with the broader sustainability initiatives associated with Olympic venues. 

Kelly Steel and structural steel: Partnering for a greener future

By using recycled structural steel in its fabrication projects, Kelly Steel is contributing to a greener future. It’s just one way that we ensure the environment is at the core of everything we do.

To help us achieve the highest standards in environmental performance and to demonstrate our commitment, Kelly Steel is accredited to ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems.

ISO is an internationally recognised system that provides standards and frameworks for companies to manage their business. The ISO standards that we adhere to ensure that the products we produce meet and exceed these standards.

Will structural steel produced today still be around in 100 years

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