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The steel industry, like many others – has its sustainability challenges. It’s why we’ve keen to improve our performance and drive the development of a strategy to play our part in creating a better New Zealand.

Sustainability has many facets – and steel is a strong contributor to many of these.

In our journey to understand this better, the New Zealand Metals industry was the first industry to assess itself against the Governments Living Standards framework. This work showed we are a strong contributor to intergenerational wellbeing.

We primarily contribute to financial capital, human capital and social capital measures. We also perform well in some key aspects of the natural capital measures, particularly life cycle analysis, resilience and recyclability. However, there is room to improve in terms of our carbon performance.

What is clear, is that we need to understand the longer-term options for replacing carbon as the reductant in steel making. We also need to understand what we can do in the meantime to improve our performance.


Our role in sustainability

We aren’t a spokesgroup for steel manufacturers. They themselves will need to identify and communicate their plans for reducing carbon emissions through the steel making process directly.

Our role is to stimulate innovation to future-proof our industry. That’s why we’re currently leading two key carbon initiatives which investigate the opportunity for zero carbon steel building products in Aotearoa, and accounting for and offsetting our own carbon emissions.

To achieve this, we’ve aligned with like-minded organisation such as the Sustainable Steel Council (SSC), thinkstep-anz and industry early adopters in the sustainability space. Together, developing case studies, templates and programs to improve the sustainability credentials of our industry.

Our core focuses

Steel product carbon offset program

We are mindful of the industrial impacts on climate change, and the rising public awareness of the issue. Add to this, New Zealand’s commitment to a Carbon Zero target by 2050 and it becomes clear that reducing our industry’s emissions is important – but is only part of the challenge.

Carbon is primarily used in the steel making process as a reductant (rather than an energy source). Although there is research into alternative reductants like hydrogen – currently, no commercially viable alternative exists for coal. Until an alternative is developed, carbon offsetting will be a key mechanism to reduce net emissions.

As facilitators of the Steel Industry Carbon Offset Program, we have partnered with Ekos to administer the program that calculates and offsets carbon in steel products. The calculator was developed in collaboration with thinkstep-anz and uses data from Life Cycle Analysis and Environmental Product Declaration documents.

The offsetting is done via domestic planting of native trees on Māori land. An action that also delivers additional biodiversity and human capital benefits to Kiwis.

Find out more about this program here, or contact our CEO, Dr Troy Coyle to discuss further.

Additional resources that might be of interest:

SSC Certification

We’re calling for members interested in being certified via New Zealand’s first ever sustainable steel certification program – a new initiative being driven by the Sustainable Steel Council (SSC).

The Sustainable Steel Council is a group of industry leaders committed to a circular economy, the long-term viability of the industry and its contribution to inter-generational wellbeing, measured against Treasury’s Living Standards Framework.

Undertaking the journey to SSC Certification will enable businesses, especially SMEs, to build their skills and capacity.

Those being certified will be able to identify improvement opportunities and gain exclusive access to tools and templates to assist this. We support members on the journey with a selection of specifically developed tools and resources available in the Knowledge Hub to complement the certification process. This will allow SMEs to be consistent with larger sector businesses and meet changing expectations of government and the business community.

It also provides a mechanism for participants to demonstrate to customers and stakeholders that you are actively addressing key sustainability issues in your production processes and supply chain, and that you have a commitment to the Living Standards Framework in Government tenders.


Find out how to become certified here, or contact our CEO, Dr Troy Coyle to discuss further.


Living Standards Framework

HERA uses the Living Standards Framework (LSF) to assess economic contribution of the metals industry, as well as its own performance.

The LSF was developed by Treasury to assess inter-generational wellbeing based on the growth, distribution and sustainability of four interdependent capitals – human, social, physical and financial, and natural.

In 2018, we commissioned consultancy company Business and Economic Research Limited (BERL) to use the LSF to assess the metal industry’s contribution to the NZ economy. In doing so, the metals industry was the first to use the LSF for this purpose.

The results showed that the metals industry is a strong contributor to the NZ economy and the living standards of New Zealanders. They also identified opportunities where we can start to add more value and better communicate what we already do add!

Since then, we’re pleased to report that BERL has updated this original assessment – focusing in on Steel’s contribution to Aotearoa’s economy. We have also developed a one pager infographic for our members to use and attach to their project bid documentations.

We understand that procurement responses now will frequently ask for broader social outcomes and this document can assist our members to provide an overview of steel’s contributions to intergenerational wellbeing.

Read more here.

Circular economy and low carbon future

Steel is the backbone of NZ cities, and there is no doubt that NZ loves steel. Local steel manufacturing and fabrication is an important part of the NZ economy, infrastructure and society. Arising from this, steel has an important role to play in our zero-carbon future.

Why? Because Aotearoa wants reduced CO2 emissions, increased recycling and improved productivity, with less impact on our environment.

We can do this through the pathway of life cycle analysis which is what a well-structured circular economy is based on.


Find out more here.

Meaningful industry relationships

We should be conscious of the fact that only a strong unified voice can achieve a sustainable industry.


It is why we have been so committed to re-invigorating the SSC – a move we believe will be integral to supporting our industry to build skills, capability and processes to maximise steels contribution to a sustainable, low emissions and climate resilient society. As well as develop resources and advance steel’s role in the circular economy.


We have also become an active member of ResponsibleSteel – our industry’s first global multi-stakeholder standard and certification initiative which welcomes members from every stage of the steel supply chain.

Its goal being to allow producers to meet the sustainability needs of their customers, improve responsible sourcing and reduce risk in the steel supply chain, and enable leading producers to promote steel as a responsible material.

Sustainability leadership