The annual World Circular Economy Forum, WCEF, is taking place next week in Helsinki, Finland. The event, organized by the Finnish Innovation Fund SITRA, highlights the urgent need for more circular solutions to secure the well-being of people and our planet. Outokumpu, as the leading producer of 100% recyclable stainless steel, made of mostly recycled material, is proud to be a part of the event. Here are some of my key expectations for the upcoming event ahead.
Circularity at heart
Stainless steel as a material is a key ingredient of circular economy. Afterall, over 90% of our raw materials are recycled. We use mainly steel scrap in our production, and on top of that, we reuse, repurpose and recycle a large portion, over 85%, of slag, dust and other side products within our production. Last year, our recycled material content rate was at an all-time high at 94%.
The connection of to our overall environmental performance is strong – the more scrap we use, the less we need virgin raw materials and the lower our emissions are.
In addition to the use of scrap as raw materials, what makes stainless steel so unique from the circular economy perspective is that at the end of its life cycle, it is 100% recyclable. Our ultimate vision is, that once something has been created in the circular economy loop of stainless steel, it stays there and is given new life always after it has fulfilled its previous task.
We know how important circular economy is – now we must act on it
Circular economy, or circularity, has been somewhat of a buzzword in the recent years. But for a company like ours, it quite well sums up how our business is linked to the well-being of the people and the planet. Afterall, the world does not need more things – but things that last.
The message of this year’s World Circular Economy Forum is: “We already know why the circular economy is a must. Now we need to show how circularity can be achieved. It’s time to scale up circular solutions everywhere.”
This applies to a business like Outokumpu’s as well. More circularity is needed to maintain sustainable stainless steel production where steel scrap is recycled in a closed loop. This would help us and our partners to reach our sustainability goals and benefit the environment by creating a stronger circular economy. Enabling better circular economy not only ensures future competitiveness but helps to tackle global challenges of biodiversity loss and global warming.
Partners are needed to drive change
In my view, the World Circular Economy Forum has one big task ahead: to bring people together from businesses, research, NGOs and governments to build a momentum for a more nature-positive future.
One thing is clear: no one can do circular economy alone – we need cooperation across industries and sectors to create a wider understanding on how to tackle some of the root causes of resource overconsumption, pollution, climate change and biodiversity loss all at once.
How is this visible on the WCEF agenda? Let’s take mining as an example: the green transition will require exponentially more minerals and metals. Mining and the use of materials needs to become more circular and sustainable but much work remains to identify how and where circular solutions can best be integrated at mine sites and along mineral supply chains and the regulation should be there to support circularity. At the WCEF on Tuesday May 30, I’ll join a panel discussing the key aspects of circularity in mining and sharing learnings from real-world projects from across the globe.
Outokumpu is also joining WWF at an Accelerator Session on Thursday June 1 to discuss the role of scrap in steel sector decarbonization. I’ll be sharing a business case on how to build successful steel business using scrap – and also announcing some exciting news regarding our latest circular economy initiative – stay tuned!
More information about the Accelerator Session: Role of scrap in steel sector carbonization. The Accelerator Session is free of charge and does not require a ticket to World Circular Economy Forum 2023. You can register for the event until May 31.