The concept of a circular economy is simple: resources are used for as long as possible to extract maximum value, before materials and products are recovered and regenerated to be used once again.
So how does steel construction fit in? Steel has unparalleled circular economy credentials and because it is has long been valued as a material which is strong, durable, versatile and recyclable, it is unique.
A circular economy promotes products with long lives. Instead of investing in cheap, disposable products, the circular economy maintains products at their highest value and utility for as long as is possible. As a result, the longer a product lasts then the fewer raw materials will be required, leading to a reduction in waste. Not only are steel construction products intrinsically durable and will last a very long time, they can also be successfully reused once their first life is over.
Recyclable, flexible, versatile steel
‘Recyclability’ is an important component of a circular economy and steel is 100% recyclable and is currently the most recycled industrial material on the planet. Steel can be recycled without loss of quality and although all new steel could be made from recycled steel, this isn’t possible due to insufficient supplies of scrap.
Yet another essential component of a circular economy is a reduction in the amount of materials required. Steel is lightweight yet strong which means that significantly fewer materials are required to construct steel framed buildings. Flexibility and adaptability are also essential; because steel fabricated buildings can be constructed to provide flexibility through designs created to allow for easy rearrangement of internal layout, this further confirms steel’s place in the circular economy.