2. Products that accelerate more sustainable lifestyles

Steel is part of everyday life and is found in products ranging from beverage cans to cars and washing machines. Achieving more sustainable lifestyles is a global challenge and steel can contribute to overcoming it by enabling the development of durable products that can be reused and recycled, that require less energy and help reshape the way we live.

Why is this important to us?

A future of nine billion people enjoying a high quality of life will need products that use natural resources in ways that are ultra-efficient and help create the so-called circular economy. Innovation is the answer to that. To create and sustain quality lives, we need to design innovative products to meet new demands.

Our challenge

Our challenge

Megatrends such as the low-carbon economy, electric vehicles and artificial intelligence are radically changing the way manufacturers think about their next product design. These challenges mean that their choice of materials are no longer based solely on cost, quality and suitability. It is necessary to consider the impacts of their entire life cycle, making it even more important to consider aspects such as strength, durability and recyclability of materials. The focus is shifting from the carbon emitted during a product’s use to emissions during its production as well. Years of strong lifecycle assessment work and successful innovation have put our steel at an advantage here, and we will need these more than ever to stay on the front foot.

Our action

Our action

We are innovating to ensure that steel is continually anticipating and responding to the next challenge in sustainable lifestyles. We work with our customers to rethink the design of their products in order to ensure the unique properties of steel can be exploited to a maximum. We also need to provide the evidence to prove - through lifecycle analysis - where steel’s environmental footprint is better than other materials, and use this capability to demonstrate to the manufacturers– and society in general – the important role of innovative steel over the decades to come.

Our potential to create value

Our potential to create value

Steel is strong, safe, flexible and easily recyclable. Due to such characteristics, it can be the answer to today's environmental and social challenges. Thanks to its infinite recyclability, a tonne of steel produces less CO2 than aluminium, magnesium or carbon fibre over its whole lifetime. The high-strength steels we have developed to make cars lighter are a good example of the value we can create. Challenges are clear and the opportunities are exciting.

Our stakeholders’ expectations

Governments, regulatory agencies and NGOs are waking up to the need to make our modern lifestyle work with fewer resources and a lower environmental impact. The auto industry is looking for lighter materials. Manufacturers in industries like white goods and electrical equipment face their own version of these challenges. Regulations are requiring the recycling of packaging materials.

Consumers also have higher expectations and are more aware of the social and environmental credentials of what they buy. Where the price is comparable, they prefer to buy brands that offer certified products throughout the whole supply chain, meet social and labour standards set by multi-stakeholder groups, and that can offer a demonstrable carbon benefit.

The result we need

Commercial designers and manufacturers in industries that contribute to our lifestyle, such as automotive and packaging, choose steel because they understand that its strength, formability and recyclability are vital in developing innovative solutions for sustainable development.

Achieving the outcome

Innovation can help us improve what we do now, and anticipate, develop and respond to new and disruptive technologies. Our global R&D team have developed the capacity – through the Sustainable Innovation Tool – to examine how every new research programme in our development pipeline can contribute to a more sustainable way of life.

We want to combine this research with our expertise in lifecycle assessment to drive sustainable innovation, and to help the manufacturers who buy our steel, as well as their customers and consumers, understand the opportunities that sustainable steel can provide. We also want all our employees to understand and disseminate the contribution of our products to sustainable development and to help us work with our customers in order to create even more value.