Advanced High Strength Steel for Sustainable Development
Iron, steel’s precursor, fueled the industrial revolution by enabling manufacturing equipment in factories and rail transport. Modern steelmaking was developed 150 years ago allowing for the affordable mass-production of steel, an iron alloy. This set off a second industrial revolution, and sustained economic growth. Steel use has grown more than seven-fold since 1950, and by 2050, steel use is projected to increase by 150% of present levels to meet the needs of the growing global population.
Steel is one of the most common materials in the world today. Society depends on it for its housing, transport, food and water supply, energy production, tools and healthcare. Over 70% of everything around us is either made of steel or manufactured by equipment made of steel. It has helped lift societies out of poverty, spurring economic growth, and continues to do so around the world today. The steel industry drives economic activity for Canada's middle class.
Steel’s combination of properties such as availability, cost, durability, strength, and its ability to be stretched or shaped without breaking, is what makes it unique. Steel’s properties enable it to suit a variety of product applications for which there are no energy and cost-effective substitutes.
Contributing to Economic Growth and Prosperity
Steel is inextricably linked with economic growth and prosperity. There are numerous ways in which steel builds economies and society worldwide. A healthy and profitable steel industry generates added value through investments in advanced technologies, capital expenditure and the creation of new knowledge.
Steel contributes to society through the creation and distribution of economic value in the form of community investments, taxes and royalties paid, and employee wages and benefits. Steel also contributes to the creation of employment. Considering steel’s position as the key product supplier to industries such as automotive, construction, transport, power and machine goods, the Canadian steel industry:
- directly employs over 22,000 highly skilled, educated and well-trained people
- creates over 100,000 spin-off jobs
- achieves over $14 billion in annual shipments
Steel has an essential role to play in the transition to a sustainable economy. Steel is critical to the sectors and technologies that will enable and drive a green revolution. Renewable energy, resource and energy efficient buildings, low-carbon transport, infrastructure for fuel efficient and clean energy vehicles, and recycling facilities all depend on steel. These sectors will also provide employment opportunities, as does the steel sector itself.
Reusable and Recyclable
Producing steel products in Alberta will have the effect of reducing long supply chains and distance to western Canadian markets, helping to meet Canada's environmental sustainability targets. Displacing steel imports from high intensity operations in other countries will also also have a dramatic effect on achieving these goals.
Steel’s durability is one of the key properties that make steel a sustainable material, allowing for the reuse of countless products - from staples to automotive parts and rail tracks. A wide range of steel products, like automobile engines and wind turbines, can be remanufactured for reuse, taking advantage of the durability of the steel components.
Steel's recyclability is another key factor contributing to steel being a sustainable material. Once steel is produced, its life cycle is potentially endless because it is easy to recover and is 100% recyclable without loss of quality. This makes steel a permanent resource for society – providing it is recovered at the end of its life cycle. Remanufacturing restores durable used products to like-new condition. Both reuse and remanufacturing extend the overall product life and thereby save valuable resources.
Over 7 million tonnes of steel is recycled in Canada each year, making steel the most recycled material in the country.
Excerpts from the Canadian Steel Producers Association