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Infinite recyclability is one of the key aspects underpinning the sustainability message of steel.


HERA Report R5-89 Steel Recycling Report shows steel plays a key role in the circular economy

Undertaken by thinkstepANZ it showed an impressive 85% of steel scrap in New Zealand is recycled, and that recycling steel scrap produced in Aotearoa New Zealand provides significant environmental benefits – despite the need for transport to overseas recycling facilities.

The study also showed that the amount of steel scrap collected for recovery is critical to the overall benefits of the recycling system.

Much of the positive benefits of steel’s recyclability is realised elsewhere as local production of steel doesn’t have a high requirement for scrap steel. To investigate what proportion of steel used and made in NZ is being recycled, we have done some exploration.

Steel recycling is well established in New Zealand – approximately 300,000 tonnes of scrap metal is recycled each year.

Steel has the highest recycling rates and export earnings of any material.

Source: level – the authority on sustainable building & BRANZ

Program focuses

Working with thinkstep-anz, we:

  • gathered data and information on how and where steel used and produced in New Zealand is recycled at end of life;
  • came to understand the local and global scrap supply chain for steel used and produced here in Aotearoa;
  • explored how other metal materials are recycled both here and abroad;
  • considered how recyclability differs based on the type of scrap, such as clean steel scrap vs. unseparated; and
  • quantified the carbon benefits of recycling steel used and produced in NZ.


Stakeholders and resources

This program could not have been achievable without the collaboration and support from other key organisations.

This program has been run in cooperation with the Sustainable Steel Council, who are a group of steel industry leaders committed to the circular economy and New Zealand’s low emissions future.

We also acknowledge engagement with the New Zealand Association of Metal Recyclers as the voice of metal recycling in Aotearoa. Their membership ranges from individual metal recyclers through to large-scale processors and end-users of recycled metals.

In terms of global context, we also used WorldSteel scrap and recycling data. Their representation of steel producers, associations and research institutes across the world accounts for around 85% of global steel production.

We achieved this by leveraging thinkstep-anz who bring expertise in enabling organsiations to develop sustainability initiatives that have quantifiable business value.