Top Ten Green Things About Steel

St. Patrick's Day is known as the green holiday, when parades fill the streets, people fill the pubs, rivers are dyed green and shamrocks abound. Nowadays, however, the quest for sustainability has created a new implication for the word "green" and the North American steel industry is no exception. Through innovative approaches, the industry has been working hard to ensure a better, safer environment and a more complete understanding of the word "green" well into the future.

Here are the top ten green things about steel:

1. Steel is 100 percent recyclable and today's steel, on average, contains 75 percent of old scrap. Steel scrap is our largest raw material by tonnage.

2. Almost all of the water used in the steel making process is recycled and filtered up to 100 times before discharge, at which point it exits cleaner than when it entered the mill.

3. Scrap, both in the steel mill and at manufacturing plants where steel is shaped and cut, are always sent back and recycled to make a new batch of steel. And gases produced in the steelmaking process are recycled into the system to heat up the furnace, reducing the need for additional energy.

4. Steel companies support communities with their involvement in environmental issue groups (watershed associations, pollution prevention roundtables) and local programs (Boy Scouts, Local Emergency Planning Commission) and through public education initiatives.

5. New technologies are being researched at MIT and the University of Utah that may allow us to produce iron, a major element in steel, without the emission of carbon dioxide.

6. American steelmakers lead the way in energy efficiency and emissions reductions. The industry is 240 percent ahead of the Kyoto Protocol greenhouse gas emissions goal and is developing innovative technologies to continue setting new benchmarks.

7. Continuously reinforced concrete roadways are structurally supported by steel rebars and help to improve fuel efficiency in large vehicles.

8. Steel cans protect food in the same way as your grandmother protected food from her garden, locking the nutritional benefits in, without the use of refrigeration. This lack of refrigeration requirement significantly reduces CO2 production.

9. Steel utility poles are light, strong, and have a long service life. They do not require chemical preservatives like their counterparts and pose no hazardous waste disposal concerns, as they are fully recyclable.

10. The North American steel industry is hard at work restoring former steel plants, called brownfield sites. In some cases small commercial and retail stores are put in place, in others the land is kept as a wildlife habitat and opened to school tours.

For more information about steel's green story, go to

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