Reusing Steel and Aluminium Components at End of Product Life

D. R. Cooper, J. M. Allwood

Reusing steel and aluminum components would reduce the need for new production, possibly creating significant savings in carbon emissions. Currently, there is no clearly defined set of strategies or barriers to enable assessment of appropriate component reuse; neither is it possible to predict future levels of reuse. This work presents a global assessment of the potential for reusing steel and aluminum components. A combination of top-down and bottom-up analyses is used to allocate the final destinations of current global steel and aluminum production to product types. A substantial catalogue has been compiled for these products characterizing key features of steel and aluminum components including design specifications, requirements in use, and current reuse patterns. To estimate the fraction of end-of-life metal components that could be reused for each product, the catalogue formed the basis of a set of semistructured interviews with industrial experts. The results suggest that approximately 30% of steel and aluminum used in current products could be reused. Barriers against reuse are examined, prompting recommendations for redesign that would facilitate future reuse.