Sustainable and sustainability are terms that we hear every day, in fact, we are bombarded with them. Just about every product on the market has the “sustainable” tag, because marketers know that consumers want “sustainable” products.
But what is “sustainable? I’m sure everyone thinks they know, but they may struggle to actually define it. I like the LandLearn NSW definition – “taking what we need to live now, without jeopardising the potential for people in the future to meet their needs”.
- have a low carbon emission footprint – stainless steel has low maintenance costs and long life, both of which are major contributors to a low carbon footprint
- are not harmful to the people who handle it, or to the environment, during manufacture, use, recycling and disposal
- are corrosion resistant and durable – if the correct stainless steel is used and properly maintained, it will last the life of the project. Stainless steel naturally forms a passive surface layer due to its chromium content, ensuring that it remains inert, posing no risk to people or the environment
- have high recycled content – stainless steel is 100% recyclable into new stainless steel, with no reduction in quality. Disposal of end-of-life stainless steel therefore poses no environmental problems. The average recycle content of 300 series stainless steels used in the building and construction industries is about 80%
- have high recapture rates – because it has high scrap value, no incentives are needed to encourage the collection and recycling of stainless steel. A recent international study by the International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF) determined that about 92% of stainless steel used in the building and construction industries is recycled.
Taking into account its full life cycle, stainless steel has one of the lightest impacts on the environment, of all engineering materials.