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10/10/2017 6:31:00 PM
Steel industry getting more sustainable and safer, study finds
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Joseph S. Pete, Times of Northwest Indiana

A new study by the World Steel Association found the steel industry is getting more environmentally sustainable and safer.

The Sustainable Steel – Indicators 2017 report concluded that the global steel industry's greenhouse gas emissions stayed steady at 1.9 tons of CO2 per ton of steel made. However, that energy intensity industry-wide dropped to 19.1 gigajoules per ton of steel cast last year, down from 20.2 gigajoules per ton of steel in 2014. Researchers also concluded 97.1 percent of steelworkers worldwide work in facilities with environmental management systems, up from 93.6 percent in 2015.

The amount of raw materials the industry successfully converts into steel rose to 97.6 percent in 2016, up from 97.3 percent the previous year. 

“Reporting our sustainability performance with the 8 indicators is one aspect that demonstrates our commitment to sustainability," World Steel Association Director General Edwin Basson said in a news release. "Our intention is to monitor progress and foster improvement from a social, economic and environmental sustainability perspective. In addition to reporting, we, together with our members, have been taking action through a range of initiatives to address the challenges the steel industry faces to ensure the sustainable development of the industry."

The steel industry's lost-time injury frequency rate, a key workplace safety metric, dropped to 1 injury per million hours worked last year, down from 1.4 injuries per million hours in 2014. Steelworkers got an average of 7 training days per year, up from 6.4 days per year in 2014.

The World Steel Association gathered data from more than 125 companies and six trade associations worldwide. It found steelmakers were investing about 13 percent of revenue in new processes and steel products meant to ensure long-time economic sustainability. 

Basson said he hopes steelmakers can use the data to learn from best practices in the industry, in terms of both operations and social responsibility.

"In addition to our 8 sustainability indicators, our most recent assessment identified 7 further areas which we plan to address extensively in our communications over the coming years," he said. "These areas are air quality, water, by-products, recycling, supply chain, environmental investment and product applications."

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