Successful steel reuse in the UK – key aspects why it happened

Drewniok Michał P. , Dunant Cyrille F. , Allwood Julian M. , Cullen Jonathan M.

With growing pressure on the construction industry to be more resource efficient, to reduce waste and to lower embodied carbon, material reuse strategies are critical to meet targets, especially for steel. Indeed, steel recycling is an energy and carbon intensive process, offering only approximately 50% energy savings [1] and 75% [2, 3] over new production, while steel reuse eliminates both. Unfortunately, there are many barriers preventing steel reuse happening at a large scale. Indeed, only 7% of heavy structural sections and tubes are currently reused compared to 93% which are recycled in the UK. Using information collected during interviews with actors across the supply chain in the UK, we could establish the cost of steel reuse. We found that steel reuse is only slightly more expensive than new steel when considering all additional costs. This paper presents case studies which were described to us during interviews or which we found in the literature where steel reuse was successful. We tried to analyse where savings were found to make it viable. Finally, we propose three main strategies to enable steel reuse at scale.