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

C. F. Dunant, M. P. Drewniok, M. Sansom, S. Corbey, J. M. Cullen, and J. 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.