Structural steel reuse; environmental and economic

Although we are still grappling with what the circular economy actually means and how it can be delivered in the construction sector, the underlying fundamentals are stark and simple. Unless we can uncouple economic growth from primary resource consumption, the global prognosis is unsustainable; in short, we will quickly run out of resources.

The circular economy offers significant economic benefits, particularly to those who can think outside the box. Several macro studies predict eye-watering economic benefits, for example McKinsey predicts a net European benefit of €1.8 trillion by 2030.

Steel has excellent circular economy credentials both as a material which is strong, durable, versatile and recyclable and, as a structural framing system, which is lightweight, flexible, adaptable and reusable. See Steel and the circular economy for further information.

SCI is particularly interested in reusing, as opposed to the common practice of recycling, structural steel. Working together with the University of Cambridge, SCI has recently completed two national, (Innovate UK) projects exploring the barriers to more mainstream reuse, the economics of reuse and assessing the feasibility of developing a website for trading and sharing information about reclaimed structural steel. SCI is now working on two large European projects REDUCE and PROGRESS.

Although we conclude that today, steel reuse is unlikely to become mainstream without stronger drivers or incentives (legislative or economic) we believe that planning for a circular economy future is the smart and responsible thing for the steel sector to do.

To understand how greater standardisation could be used to promote future reuse we invite you to complete a short survey  REUSE.

Read more on these projects;

Innovate UK

REDUCE and PROGRESS