Sustainable Procurement, Design and Recycling
Steel is one of the most recycled materials in the world. The International Iron and Steel Institute (IISI), estimates that the world recycling rate of steel is over 65%. As steel is recycled, it maintains its strength and integrity so it can be made into one quality product after another. Steel has an enormous advantage over other materials with respect to recycling in that it is magnetic. This allows for an efficient, automotive and low cost separation from other materials which can easily be incorporated into most waste-handling and recovery processes.
Materials are selected by Link 51 based on their ability to be recycled and sustainability of supply. All of Link 51's current products can be recycled.
Link 51 is by far the largest user of steel in the steel storage industry, supplied by Corus and Arcelor Mittal.
Corus is the UK market leader and is widely recognised as Europe's second largest steel producer with annual revenues of over £11 billion and a crude steel production of about 20 million tonnes. Corus is committed to minimising the environmental impact of its operations and its products through the adoption of sustainable practices and continuous improvement in environmental performance. Corus is a major partner in ULCOS (ultra-low CO2 steelmaking), a European research project to investigate technologies that could bring about a step-change reduction in CO2 emissions from the steelmaking process in the medium to long term. In the interim, the emphasis is on reducing emissions incrementally, wherever this is technically feasible and not prohibitively costly.
To date, over 86% of manufacturing operations have been certified to the independently verified international environmental standard, ISO 14001.
Arcelor Mittal is the largest global steel company in the market producing circa 10% of the world's steel, with 310,000 employees in more than 60 countries. They have a leading reputation in the field of producing quality material. Arcelor has a strong record in reducing CO2 emissions. In Europe they have reduced the CO2 footprint of its steelmaking by more than 20% since 1990. They are currently working with the International Iron and Steel Institute (IISI) to develop a sector approach to CO2 monitoring and reduction, to be supported by all major steel producing countries, which would assess the actual reduction potential through a reliable measurement of current CO2 emissions and performance analysis.
Overall, Arcelor’s target is to achieve ISO 14001 certification of 162 sites, including both production and non-production facilities. By the end of 2007, 141 Arcelor Mittal sites attained certification, with the remaining sites planned to be certified by the end of 2008.
Link 51 operates an ISO 9001:2008 approved supplier appraisal and review system. The system is used as an integral part of the purchasing process in order to evaluate potential new suppliers and also to monitor existing key suppliers, thus ensuring Link 51 has the most efficient and effective supply chain available.
Link 51 specifically target quality and environmental accreditation, policies and procedures to gain an understanding of a company’s attitude and commitment towards these crucial business practices.
Link 51 purchases steel from 'mini' type steel mills fed with 100% recycled scrap metal. It also purchases from integrated steel mills fed from a combination of iron ore and recycled scrap metal. All Link 51 products are designed to ensure 100% re-use throughout the life span of the product and recycling at the end of its life.
An integrated mill uses between 11% and 26% scrap metal in the material mix. It is beneficial for the mill to use a higher content of scrap but this varies through availability.
By far the largest material consumption is steel. Link 51 is working closely with its suppliers to increase the recycled content of material through increased purchases from steel mills fed only from recycled scrap metal. Furthermore, the 'mini mill' process uses less energy to produce the steel than an integrated mill fed predominantly from iron ore.
Through the management programme Link 51 are currently reviewing identification methods for its various products and respective materials to support the recycling process at the end of the products life span.
Link 51 product designs make the maximum use of mechanical fixings such as bolts and clipping systems, minimising the use of permanent fixings such as welding to ensure the product can be dismantled to its pre-constructed state, transported and re-used.
Furthermore once the product is dismantled at the end of its life span the material can be more easily disposed of through the respective waste stream for recycling.
Product Life Cycle Assessment
Link 51 conducts product life cycle assessments as part of its overall BSI standards and objectives. This method assessment determines the environmental impacts of products, processes or services, through production, usage, and disposal.
This is a systematic procedure for compiling and examining the inputs and outputs of materials and energy and the associated environmental impacts directly attributable to the functioning of a product or service system throughout its life cycle.
This looks at the consecutive and interlinked stages of a product or service system, from the extraction of natural resources to the final disposal.
The technique used for assessing the potential environmental aspects and potential aspects associated with a product (or service), are:
• compiling an inventory of relevant inputs and outputs,
• evaluating the potential environmental impacts associated with those inputs and outputs,
• interpreting the results of the inventory and impact phases.
This involves cradle-to-grave analyses of production systems and provides comprehensive evaluations of all upstream and downstream energy inputs and multimedia environmental emissions.
Packaging and Labelling
A fundamental part of the Link 51 Environmental Management System (EMS) is the reduction of waste. This is to be achieved by reviewing processes and enhancing the opportunity to recycle materials for both Link 51 and their customers.
As part of the Management Plan Link 51 are investigating how it can best employ existing labelling conventions to aid recycling, particularly with regard to the plastic packaging and components it uses and sells.
Plastic shrink film is the most commonly used packaging material for Link 51 products. A programme is underway to reduce the amount used and to investigate the practicality of “labelling” the film to aid recycling using ASPI standard marking codes.