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Making planet-friendly products with a planet-friendly process

Aug 03, 2017 | 08:00 PM | Bill Beck


Key projects anchored in environmental responsibility and ranging from scrap tire and EAF baghouse dust recycling to the launch of a pioneering EcoSmart customer awareness program have earned SSAB Americas AMM’s 2017 Steel Excellence Award for Environmental Responsibility/Stewardship.

Debuted in 2016, the EcoSmart program promotes SSAB Americas’ current and ongoing commitment to making planet-friendly products using a planet-friendly approach—a process which results in more than 60-percent fewer CO2 emissions than the North American steel industry average. SSAB’s environmental initiatives have combined to reduce waste, improve energy efficiency and enhance recycling efforts.

“With this award, we have shown that environmental sustainability is at the core of what we do at SSAB,” Jon Howley, director, environment for SSAB Americas, said on receiving the honors at the annual awards dinner. “We continuously strive to make the least impact possible on our environment, to help create a better world for tomorrow

When informed of the award, Chuck Schmitt, SSAB Americas president, expressed great pride in the work of the organization. “This award solidifies our standing in the North American steel industry,” Schmitt said. “We owe great thanks to our loyal employees, valued customers and other partners who have helped SSAB become a market leader in North America.”

SSAB Americas produces steel plate and coil in the U.S. at mills in Montpelier, Iowa and Mobile, Ala., with offices and support facilities also located in Chicago, Toronto, Houston and St. Paul. SSAB Americas’ steel is used to build heavy machinery, ships, bridges, wind towers, rail cars and more. SSAB Americas is a division of Nordic-based global steelmaker SSAB.

During the past five years, SSAB Americas has embarked on a comprehensive program to achieve corporate goals in environmental responsibility. The company focused its efforts on six key areas including improvements to scrap tire recycling, scrap metal waste recycling at its Alabama facility, waste management for general trash at both its Iowa and Alabama mills, EAF baghouse dust recycling at both mills, refractory brick recycling in Alabama and Iowa, and energy efficiency projects at its Iowa mill.

On Earth Day 2017, SSAB Americas announced the official launch of its EcoSmart awareness program. The goal of the initiative is to make people more aware of the environmental sustainability of steel produced by SSAB Americas.

“For us, sustainability isn’t something new,” Howley said. “It’s built into who we are and how we operate. In short, we are proud to make planet-friendly products using a planet-friendly process.”

EcoSmart was introduced to many of SSAB Americas’ large customers throughout 2016, and will continue to be rolled out throughout 2017. The program is geared to better inform customers about what makes the company’s steel sustainable, and then to share this information, in turn, with their own customers. “They can feel confident knowing they are buying steel from a responsible producer,” Howley pointed out.

The company’s environmental initiatives have been recognized industry-wide in recent years. SSAB Americas received three Return on Environment awards from GE Power and Water, in 2003, 2009 and 2015. The company was recognized by the Steel Manufacturers Association with an Achievement in Environmental Stewardship and Recycling Award in 2012.

Howley described the results of SSAB’s initiatives as “outstanding, from less waste being sent to landfills and less energy consumption to more materials being recycled. Big wins have included more than three-million pounds of trash being diverted from landfills, reduced consumption of electricity in certain areas by 70 percent due to new lighting, and more than 200,000 tons of EAF baghouse dust being recycled,” he shared some statistics.

SSAB Americas is particularly proud of its scrap tire recycling program, which uses scrap tires as a substitute for the charge carbon used in the electric arc furnace steelmaking process. SSAB has recycled more than five-million scrap tires in place of the charge carbon, which has resulted in a financial savings to the company and led to the formation of SSAB’s Foundation for Education.

Since 2004, SSAB has made a commitment of $100,000 annually to local schools as a direct result of cost savings generated by the scrap tire program. “Accumulation and management of scrap tires have been an environmental challenge for decades and the program managed by SSAB provides an environmentally friendly solution that benefits not only SSAB, but the state and the surrounding communities as well,” Howley noted.


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