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Posco measures life cycle of steel for eco-efficiency

Amid growing calls for sustainable and eco-friendly products, South Korean steel giant Posco has looked closely into ways of assessing the impact of steel manufacturing, maintenance and its end-of-life phase, the company said Sunday.

From a general point of view, steel is far from eco-friendly. But when assessed in terms of life cycle, steel’s competitiveness and benefits to the environment are highlighted, the company said, citing a WorldSteel report.

Life cycle of steel (Worldsteel)
Life cycle of steel (Worldsteel)


According to WorldSteel, an alliance of steelmakers around the world, life-cycle assessment, or LCA, measures how the manufacturing of a product, the extraction of raw materials, the use and the recycling of the product impacts the environment, which differs from conventional methods that consider the size of carbon emissions.

It helps society make informed decisions on the use of materials and their economic importance, it added.

Steelmaking consumes a huge amount of energy but it can be eco-efficient, as steel scrap is 100 percent recyclable. Ninety percent of the material can be reused or remanufactured during its life time of nearly 100 years, much higher than other metals like aluminum and magnesium, Posco said.

Posco’s Finex technology is part of the steelmaker’s efforts to become an eco-efficient company, it said.

The Finex system produces molten iron directly using iron ore fines and nonchoking coals, skipping a few manufacturing steps compared to conventional blast-furnace technology. This reduces capital investment, production costs and carbon emissions.

Posco’s high-strength steel products, such as giga steel, are also eco-efficient because they help reduce the weight of automobiles. Emissions of carbon and nitrogen are reduced 4.5 percent and 8.8 percent, respectively when the weight of a vehicle is reduced by 10 kilograms, the company explained.

In recognition of such efforts, Posco became the first company in the domestic steel industry to obtain Environmental Product Declaration certification from the Ministry of Environment last month.

According to the company, five products from Posco -- plates, wire rods, plated steel sheets (HGI), giga steel (980DP), and high corrosion-resistant steel plates -- all gained certification for seven environmental indicators: carbon footprint, resource footprint, ozone layer influence, acid rain, eutrophication, photochemical smog and water footprint.

By Cho Chung-un (christory@heraldcorp.com)
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