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Indiana-based electric arc furnace (EAF) steelmaker Steel Dynamics Inc. (SDI) continues to find new ways to convert scrap metal into steel products while emitting CO2 well below industry average, according to a company executive.

Theresa Wagler, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of SDI, says recycle today the company uses 90-95% scrap metal to make its rebar and other long products. The company is increasingly present in the flat-rolled steel market, and these rolling mills use a mixture of pig iron, direct reduction iron (DRI) or hot briquetted iron (HBI), with scrap representing 75 80% of the raw material. in this business unit.

Copper and other residual metals found in scrap can make premium grades the only viable scrap feedstock in a sheet metal plant. Wagler says the rank has remained in short supply for the past three years.

Wagler says SDI continues to work with its own OmniSource business unit and other scrap suppliers to improve ferrous shredding to produce a quality that it says is “almost like a premium type of shredding.”

Maintaining and even increasing the recycled content of its steel is important not only to SDI but also to many of its customers, says the chief financial officer, who has been with SDI since 1998.

In construction, automotive and several other industries, measuring carbon footprints and product lifecycles has become the norm, which is good news for SDI, says Wagler. “On the customer side, we are the recycled content,” she notes. “We are already decarbonization history – today.”

It’s unclear to what extent projects related to the Major Infrastructure Bill will favor recycled-content steel, Wagler says. However, US-centric “melting and casting” requirements for steel are spelled out, favoring domestic mills.

“Of the potential $1.2 trillion bill, some $850 billion has steel-bearing aspects,” she comments. “Our belief is that there will be a benefit for those of us who produce recycled steel.” Wagler says the rail infrastructure is also improving, and “we are the leading rail producer” in the United States, she says, referring to SDI’s structural and rail division in Columbia City, Indiana. “It’s a real head start for us.

Additionally, the solar and wind energy components of the bill provide demand for steel for solar panel enclosures and wind turbine structures.

In summerit dry automobiletor, Wagler says the recycled content of SDI steel has helped it “get traction” in service centers and with OEMs. “They want to be able to say that their entire supply chain is carbon reduction or carbon neutral,” she says of some customers.

SDI is working on creating what Wagler calls a “near-perfect closed-loop system” at its flat rolling mill in Sinton, Texas. Several manufacturers of finished products and components in the United States and Mexico have agreed to supply their generated waste directly to the factory, “eliminating carbon emissions” due to the short route.

To supply its Sinton plant, SDI also recently purchased Roca Acero SA de CV, a multi-site scrap processor based in Monterrey, Mexico. This is the second Monterrey-based scrap business acquired by SDI, following Zimmer SA de CV in early 2020.

Closed-loop deals, scrap processing acquisitions, and continued efforts to use more shredded scrap as feedstock are all part of SDI’s decarbonization path, says Wagler.

The company’s website features a title that reads: “Sustainable. Intentional. Transformational. In a brief article titled “What we do” under this slogan, the steelmaker states: “We operate on a circular manufacturing model, producing quality low carbon steel using EAF technology with scrap recycled as the main input. »

The visible commitment to decarbonization (and recycling) is not temporary, and SDI backs that commitment with actions, says Wagler. “Some of our customers say that our flat roll division based in Columbus, Mississippi has the lowest SCOPE 1 [direct greenhouse gas] emissions from all their suppliers,” she comments.

More decarbonization steps are coming, says Wagler, saying SDI’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 is possible, adding that it would also like to see a higher price attached to low-carbon steel. carbon content “one day”. Said Wagler of the sentiment within SDI towards its recycling-based, low-carbon approach, “There’s incredible excitement and momentum.”