Steel

Overview: Steel is one of the most common materials used in the construction industry. The industry is one of the most important steel-using industries, accounting for more than 50% of world steel demand. In terms of economic performance, the structural steel fabrication industry has derived solid demand from the key building markets over the past five years (2015-2019), although declining demand from the non-building and mining infrastructure markets has negatively affected the industry's performance. The constant threat of competition from low-priced imports has also limited the industry revenue growth over the period.

In Australia, according to the available data in 3.8m  tonnes of steel waste was generated in 2016-17. The largest steel waste producers were NSW (1,345,349 t), Vic (925,563 t) and Qld (703,502 t). The data for waste landfilling was only available for SA being 3,155 tonnes. In Australia, due to the monetary value of steel scrap, the majority of steel waste is sent back to steel fabrication manufacturers to be used for the production of new steel products.

Supply chain (circular economy): We developed a supply chain model called steel LoWMoR (Low of Waste, More of Resources), through which eleven opportunities to reduce steel waste disposal were identified. The following figure shows this model: 

        Steel LoWMore model to reduce steel waste disposal 

Industry associations related to steel products

  •  Australian Steel Association

  •  Australian Steel Institute

  • Australian Stainless Steel Development Association

  • The Australian Steel Manufacturing Research Hub

  • The Steel Reinforcement Institute of Australia

 Major steel manufacturers

Steel waste recyclers in Australia

Recommendations to reduce steel waste disposal

  • Provision of landfill levy exemption for residual waste derived from steel recycling

  • The government needs to offer freight subsidises to enable the delivery of recyclables to waste processing facilities

  • Adjust specifications in favour of steel waste-based materials in new constructions project

  • Stabilise market volatility to ensure sustainable usage of steel waste in steel manufacturing

Applicable policies and guidelines

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