Circular economy

Our stainless steel is a key element in circular economy

Outokumpu uses high amounts of recycled materials and we continuously aim for higher recycling rates in our operations. At the end of its life cycle, stainless steel is endlessly recyclable without any loss in quality.

Global leader in sustainable stainless steel production

Our most important raw materials are recycled steel from both stainless and carbon steel. The recycled content of our stainless steel is more than 90%. Increasing the recycled content of stainless steel is the single most efficient way for Outokumpu to reduce the environmental impact which results from production processes. The carbon footprint of our stainless steel is less than 30% of the industry average.

Stainless steel life cycle

Stainless steel fits perfectly into circular economy. Recycling saves resources, and stainless steel is both made of recycled materials and fully recyclable, without any quality degradation. Durability is also important from the life-cycle point of view. Using Outokumpu's stainless steel can help to decrease your carbon footprint and that of your customer.

A life-cycle analysis shows the environmental impact of a product over its whole life cycle. Stainless steel strengths are visible especially from the life cycle point of view. Generally, material properties enable lower life cycle costs combined with lower environmental impact.

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Waste turned into by-products

Outokumpu’s long-term goal is zero-waste stainless steel production, which means that all production material streams are studied carefully to find means of fully recycling, reusing or selling them as by-products. Our biggest waste items are unused slag, tailing sand from mining operations, as well as sludge, dust and scales from production.

Slag and dust are the main by-products of steelmaking process. Outokumpu has developed slag-based products for road construction, refractory and concrete production, as well as water treatment. By-products made of slag mineral reduce the amount of waste produced in the steelmaking process, save virgin materials and lead to lower CO2 emissions.

Recyclability and durability as key features

Stainless steel is made of recycled materials. At the end of its life cycle, it is 100% recyclable without any loss of quality. Along with recyclability, durability is an important aspect of circular economy. The use of stainless steel prolongs the lifetimes of applications and components since stainless steel requires minimal maintenance, which is both cost-effective and beneficial for the environment and society.

As recycled materials replace virgin raw materials that would otherwise have been required, the effects cover the whole supply chain. According to a study by Fraunhofer Institut, using a ton of austenitic scrap saves 4.3 tons of CO2.

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Stainless steel life cycle
Waste and by-products