Options to make steel reuse profitable: An analysis of cost and risk distribution across the UK construction value chain

Cyrille F. Dunant Michał P. Drewniok Michael Sansom Simon Corbey Jonathan M.Cullen Julian M.Allwood

Although steel reuse has been identified as an effective method to reduce the carbon and energy impact of construction, it is in effect only a marginal practice. A detailed analysis of the costs and risks of reuse in practice in the UK is lacking. We found that although there is a sufficient spread between the price of steel scrap and new steel, this difference cannot be captured by the demolition contractors. Rather, reused steel is somewhat more expensive than new elements, except in certain circumstances such as when the reused elements are available from a nearby site, or when testing elements can be avoided. Further, we show that neither the costs of steel reuse, nor the risks, nor its benefits are spread equitably throughout the construction industry supply chain: most of the substantial and capital-intensive changes required for the widespread adoption of steel reuse are concentrated on steelwork contractors and stockists. Based on this analysis, we suggest helping the emergence of a specialised stockist.