It is no secret that manufacturing steel is an energy intensive and immense greenhouse gas emitting industry. In fact, the steel industry accounts for seven to nine percent of global direct emissions from the use of fossil fuels (Tomich, 2019). While access to cheap coal-fired electricity fueled the rapid growth of industry across the country, today’s need for non-renewable energy sources is rapidly dwindling as consumers are starting to take advantage of less expensive and cleaner sources of electricity. Steel companies such as Nucor Corp, the largest steel producer in the United States, are doing just that.

Based in Charlotte, NC, Nucor planned to begin the operation of the first U.S. steel production plant that will run fully on wind energy in Sedalia, MO, in December 2019. Set to permanently employ over 250 people, not including the potential of jobs from an influx of additional stores and industry to the town, Nucor’s decision to invest in wind energy comes with little shock to those familiar with Nucor’s various other sustainability initiatives (Tomich, 2019). While Nucor is one of the largest players setting an example for the industry, its actions are being followed by other steel producers in a similar vein. 

Additional Industry Happenings 

  • Steel producer, EVRAZ North America, has announced its plans to develop a 240-megawatt solar facility in Pueblo, CO, which will then be used to deliver clean, cost-effective energy to EVRAZ (Tomich, 2019). 
  • Boston Metal is redefining what it means to produce steel with its novel technology, metal oxide electrolysis. This technology allows for the production of pure metals without carbon emissions. While this technology is still under development for wide commercial adoption, as coal costs are rising, Boston Metal’s technique will be a more affordable option for steel in the future (BostonMetal, 2019). 
  • AK Steel, located in West Chester, OH, was recently featured on a Fox Business Network TV segment for its sustainability work. Focusing on reducing hazardous waste in addition to reducing and reusing water in steel production, AK Steel continues to grow its transparency (Newport, 2019).

What We’re Doing

While the list of major sustainable players and initiatives in the steel industry does not end here, it is also important to consider the actions that may not grab media attention, but can greatly improve business. According to The World Steel Association, 71 steel companies have signed the Worldsteel Sustainable Development Charter, 53 of which reported their carbon emissions intensity and six were recognized as Steel Sustainability Champions in 2017. Numbers like these are continuing to rise, and we’re here to help the cause. Reporting on sustainability metrics, regardless of industry, is becoming the new norm. As an industry with immense environmental impact and heavy reliance on natural resources, steel companies should, and will begin or continue to advance their tracking and reporting on sustainability performance. 3R Sustainability is well positioned to meet any company where it is and help develop a plan to achieve its goals. 

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Works Cited: 

  • BostonMetal. (2019). Our Platform. Retrieved from BostonMetal: https://www.bostonmetal.com/home/
  • Newport, R. (2019, April). Steelmaking & Sustainability. Retrieved from Building a Sustainable Future: https://www.aksteel.com/about-us/corporate-citizenship/sustainability
  • Tomich, J. (2019, November 15). Renewable Energy. Retrieved from E&E News: https://www.eenews.net/stories/1061552453
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