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Importance of recycling in the decarbonization of steel production

Source : Outlook India

Notes by Narsi

In an interview ,an interesting point TV Narendran, MD of Tata Steel makes is about recycling-based steelmaking.

While the current process has a carbon footprint of just over 2 tons of CO2 per ton of steel produced, and companies need to try really hard to bring it down by even 10%, he mentions that a recycling plant has a carbon footprint of just 0.5 tons of CO2 per ton of steel. That’s a 75% reduction from the current emissions!

Worldwide, steel made from recycled scrap is on the rise. Scrap's share of current steelmaking raw materials is about 30%. This is not unimpressive in itself, and there are indications that there's significant potential for the share of scrap to increase.

Around 650 million tonnes of steel scrap are recycled worldwide every year, preventing nearly a billion tonnes of CO2 emissions. China alone consumed a massive 240 million tonnes of steel scrap in 2020, and from a situation where it looked like the country will export massive amounts of steel scrap (when it was making steel from iron ore), China might even import steel scrap instead of iron ore to cut down its steel industry's carbon emissions.

India makes about 120 million tons of steel and uses about 30 million tons of steel scrap, a number that is poised to increase. What could be of concern in India is the poor steel recycling rate, which has led to an increase in steel scrap imports - we import about 7 million tons every year.

It appears that India has its work cut out on both better recyling of steel and use of higher proportion of scrap for production - achieving the former should almost certainly lead to success in the latter.

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