The International Iron and Steel Institute (IISI) has developed life-cycle assessment (LCA) tools to help understand the benefits of steel recycling. The key themes important to sustainability are that:
Steel recycling avoids environmental impacts associated with producing steel from virgin material sources;
The amount of steel which is recycled/reused at end-of-life is crucial to the sustainability of the steel application;
Whilst all steels contain recycled content, the level has little or no impact on the sustainability of the steel application in a life-cycle context.
There is a misperception that specifying recycled steel is more environmentally friendly than specifying virgin material steel. When looked at in the broader context of sustainability, analysis shows that recycled content is irrelevant providing that the steel is reused or recycled at the end-of-life of the application.