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Decarbonisation puts metal recyclers centre stage

Recyclers have been told they are finally getting the recognition for their contribution to sustainability as the steelmaking industry looks to decarbonise.

The importance of scrap to the industrial sector in the coming decades was set out during the session of BIR’s Ferrous Division at the Abu Dhabi convention by guest speaker Kedar Joshi from Davis Index. He asserted: ‘The revolution is here and we are all part of it’.

Joshi referenced two important pronouncements in the previous three months. In July, the World Economic Forum said 6.5 billion tonnes of materials will be needed between now and 2050 for the energy transition with steel, copper and aluminium accounting for around 95% of this. ‘This is not possible without increasing metals recycling,’ the WEF had said.

In September, McKinsey concluded that ‘the metals sector will be fundamental in the effort to limit climate change’.

Such perceptions, Joshi argued, meant that integrated mills will have to increase scrap utilisation to meet demand for lower carbon scores while higher demand for finished products with different environmental, social and corporate governance and carbon footprint ratings would boost scrap utilisation.

Acknowledging recycled steel as a ‘strategic resource’, he cautioned: ‘Growing protectionism and the political need for better domestic supply chains are causing a rise in regional markets. This changes traditional trade routes. We expect this trend to continue.’

Such protectionism was already evident, he said, with more than 60 countries having banned, restricted or being in the process of restricting exports to support domestic producers.

Calling the market for recycled steel ‘Industry 4.0’, Joshi said: ‘For our industry, the 4.0 era will mean having to embrace better technology to identify, sort, process and ship materials.’

Division president Denis Reuter closed the session by handing over the presidential reins to Shane Mellor. ‘I’d like to thank my colleagues from the Ferrous Board for all their support and valuable input but also want to thank the BIR secretariat, the director general, past president Tom Bird and current president Susie Burrage.’

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