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Steel’s role in the Circular Economy

2 May 2023

Steel is a building block of society; it is used in our transport networks, our hospitals, schools, offices, shops and our homes.

Steel will continue to play an essential role in helping shape our nation’s future. In fact, steel demand is predicted to increase significantly by 2050 and with that it’s important to recognise one of steel’s greatest qualities; it is infinitely recyclable. In fact, steel can not only be recycled to make new steel, but it can be upcycled to produce a higher quality of steel.

The primary way this is done is via electric arc furnace-based steelmaking processes, which many steel manufacturers globally are transitioning to – or preparing to transition to – as the global steel industry pursues a decarbonised future.
At InfraBuild, we have been using electric arc furnace-based processes to manufacture steel as part of our long-standing vertically integrated operations for almost 40 years, with our mill in Laverton (Melbourne) operating since 1985 and our mill in Rooty Hill (Sydney) operational since 1992.

These operations comprise recycling, manufacturing and distribution and processing. As more companies, globally, adopt these processes, demand for recyclable scrap metals will continue to grow. At InfraBuild’s recycling sites, scrap metals are sourced through local recycling solutions from households, local government, mining, demolition, automotive, manufacturing and waste companies.

During 2022, these facilities have recovered about 1.4 million tonnes of recycled metals across the country. InfraBuild uses this scrap metal to produce steel billets at electric arc furnaces at Laverton and Rooty Hill. The billets are used by InfraBuild to manufacture steel products which are used in a wide variety of applications from bedding springs and agricultural fencing, to the reinforcing and hotrolled steel used in large scale projects, which in recent years includes the Sydney Metro, Melbourne Metro, West Gate Tunnel and Brisbane’s Cross River Rail projects.
By the very nature of our EAF manufacturing process, InfraBuild’s finished products embrace the concept of the circular economy – steel that may have once been part of a fridge is shredded and combined with a host of other scrap metals to make rebirthed steel which is then manufactured and sold back into the market as a new valued steel product.

It is this notion of the circular economy which makes recycling so important. As more steelmakers adopt electric arc furnace-based methods like ours, demand for scrap will continue to grow. Which is why it’s so important we all play our part in contributing to the circular economy by recycling our steel appliances and products at their end-of use phase, to help manufacture more lower embodied carbon steel. Businesses can then continue to provide a pathway from collection, to processing and ultimately transforming scrap metal into a valuable resource and providing a socially, environmentally, and economically responsible alternative to landfill.

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