The Steel Industry – Making it Greener

By bsozak | September 5, 2013


Take a quick guess, what is the most recyclable material that is manufactured? If you read the title of the article, you’d guess steel and you would be right! Unlike other recyclable products, steel does not lose any of its quality or physical characteristics from being recycled. But why is steel so recyclable compared to other recycled products like paper and plastic? To find out, we have to dive into the manufacturing process of making steel. Also learn about how valuable steel can be and how you can contribute to reducing the carbon footprint of the steel industry.

Steel Manufacturing

While there are many different types of steel manufactured for a variety of purposes, the most intensely produced steel involves hot rolled and cold drawn steel. Take a manufacturer like Capital Steel & Wire, which manufacturers both. Through their cold drawn steel capabilities, they take blocks of steel and pass them through a die or a series of dies, which compress and draw out the steel into the desired shapes and sizes. These are manufactured to produce a wide range of products that require steel, such as automobiles and appliances. These cold drawn products have a nicer finish and are a bit stronger than hot rolled steel products. For Capital Steel’s hot rolled capabilities, the steel is at a temperature above the re-crystallization of the steel, which makes it easier to mend and bend. Although the steel isn’t as precise and pretty as cold drawn steel, it is cheaper to manufacture and suits the needs fine for products like steel beams and railroad tracks.

For both of these processes, the raw materials to produce the steel can be recycled steel, and the quality of the end product will not be affected. Additionally, it is much cheaper to use recycled steel as opposed to mining iron ore and transforming it into steel as it uses far less energy and cuts back on transportation and labor costs. To recycle steel, the product is melted down to above its crystallization state, and can be molded and shaped back into place. With the addition of a few essential items like manganese and phosphorus that may have been lost in the recycling process, the steel can be transformed into the desired type with little energy or effort.

If you Have Steel

If you happen to have high quantities steel sitting around your house or on your property, they could be put to great use and they can actually make you some money! Steel containers, cans, appliances and cars are all contain steel and can be taken to recycling centers or steel scrap sites in exchange for cash. Call the locations in advance to ask for their prices, as they can change on a monthly basis. A car is typically 60-70% steel by weight, and an appliance is 70-80% steel by weight.

Recycling your steel has many benefits. You benefit financially from turning your scrap steel in for money, you help out the manufacturers of steel products from paying extra to make the same end result, and you help out the environment by reducing the carbon footprint of the steel industry.

I found a pretty cool infographic on steel as well. Although it doesn’t have much to do with the topics just covered, it shows how important steel is for building the infrastructure of cities, and how important it will remain in the future for development.


The evolution & impact of steel in Architecture

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