Outokumpu’s stainless steel is a superb material for sustainable solutions as it is 100% recyclable, efficient and long-lasting. However, sustainability it is not only about what we do, but also how we do it. Therefore, we have made climate change one of the key pillars in our sustainability strategy. This includes an ambitious target to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
During 2019, we took steps to further strengthen Outokumpu’s sustainability agenda and we updated our sustainability strategy to reflect the growing importance of sustainability and the possibilities it offers for our business. Our sustainability strategy is based on three pillars:
- Climate change
- Protecting the environment in the locations where we operate
- Our people and society at large
In this article we are focusing on climate change.
While we are already the sustainability leader in our industry, we are determined to never stand still when it comes to protecting the climate. For the short term, we are on track for a target of reducing our carbon footprint by 20% by 2023. This was a target we set ourselves in 2016. Since then we have made systematic efforts to improve our energy efficiency and also to use greener energy. This target has also been accepted by the globally renowned Science Based Targets (SBT) initiative, meaning it is in line with the scale of reductions required to keep global warming well below 2° Celsius. Our longer-term aim is even more ambitious, because Outokumpu is committed to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 – in-line with EU Green Deal targets. This will be very challenging, but we are convinced it will be achieved by a combination of determined actions, cooperation with universities with regard to new or improved technology and support from the public sector in terms of green financing and appropriate legislation.
Why we claim the lowest carbon footprint in the stainless steel industry
There are three main factors that enable Outokumpu to make claim to the lowest carbon footprint in the stainless steel industry:
- First, we lead the industry in terms of recycling. The recycling content of our stainless steel is more than 85% – higher than any other producer in the industry.
- Second, we are the only major stainless producer with our own chromium mine and ferrochrome production equipped with the latest technology. Our ferrochrome raw material has a very low carbon footprint which is only 42% of the industry average.
- Third, our production process is largely based on electricity and more than 80% of our electricity used in Europe is carbon neutral.
How do we compare with our competitors?
In 2019, our footprint was 1.6 tons of carbon for every ton of produced steel. The global average of all stainless producers is three times higher than that – a remarkable difference. What is even more notable is that the stainless steel produced in China and Indonesia has a carbon footprint up to five times higher than Outokumpu. The reasons for this difference in China and Indonesia are:
- Low utilization of recycled material
- Low nickel content ore and high process emissions
- Use of coal as main electricity source
In future articles we will focus on the other two pillars of our sustainability strategy: Protecting the environment in the locations where we operate; Our people and society at large.