Everyone is familiar with stainless steel in some fashion, whether they realize it or not. Stainless steel is one of the most prevalent metal alloys used in consumer, commercial, and industrial products today, and for good reason. Stainless steel is corrosion resistant, fire and heat resistant, impact resistant, and easy to fabricate. You’ll find stainless steel in everything from kitchen appliances to industrial tools.
But there are some qualities about stainless steel that may surprise you. Here are some things you should know about stainless steel:
Stainless steel is 100% recyclable into the same product
That’s right. 100 percent recyclable with no loss in quality. The metal’s high scrap value and recyclability ensures that it is diverted from landfills and recaptured for use in new stainless steel. A recent international study by the International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF) determined that about 92 percent of the stainless steel used in architecture, building and construction applications is recaptured and recycled at the end of service.
Stainless steel is a truly sustainable material with a very high end-of-life recapture rate
At its end-of-life (EOL), stainless steel is recaptured and recycled into new metal at amazingly high rates. Researchers at the Center for Industrial Ecology, Yale University, New Haven, CT, and the National Institute for Environmental Studies, Tsukuba, Japan completed an in-depth study of the international life cycle of stainless steel, including the typical service life and EOL recapture rates by application.
In the industrial equipment and the building and infrastructure segments, as mentioned above, 92 percent of stainless steel is captured at the EOL for use in new stainless or carbon steel. The EOL recapture rates for other common applications are as follows: transportation, 87 percent; household appliances and electronics, 70 percent; and other metal goods, 60 percent.
- Stainless steel plays an important role in resource conservation
Stainless steel’s role in resource conservation is not limited to its high-recycled content and reuse rate. It plays an important role in the production of alternative energy equipment and the generation of solar, biomass to energy, nuclear, geothermal, and wave power. Air scrubbing systems made from stainless steel are also making existing energy production technologies cleaner.
Stainless steel is used to store and transport potable water to minimize loss to the environment and to clean wastewater. Its extensive use in large public water and sewerage treatment facilities is well known, but it is also increasingly being used for small on-site water storage, treatment or filtration units.
Stainless steel is playing an important role in sustainable design and alternative energy evolution. Ultimately, the most environmentally friendly materials are corrosion resistant and durable, have high-recycled content and recapture rates, provide long service life and reduce resource use. Stainless steel provides all of these benefits. If the correct stainless steel is selected and properly maintained, it will last the life of any project.