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World Steel Recycling in Figures: January-December 2021 update

World Steel Recycling in Figures: January-December 2021 update

Global crude steel production totalled 1.952 billion tonnes in 2021, up 3.8% from the previous year. According to worldsteel, global oxygen furnace production was almost unchanged on 1.381 billion tonnes whereas the electric furnace total jumped 14.4% to 563 million tonnes. There were also increases in the global production of both blast furnace iron (+1.2% to 1.346 billion tonnes) and DRI (+9.9% to 114.5 million tonnes).

Data show a decrease in China’s crude steel production last year (-3% to 1.033 billion tonnes), thereby reducing the country’s share of global production from 56.6% in 2020 to 53% in 2021. In contrast, increased crude steel production was registered in 2021 by the EU-27 (+15.4% to 152.575 million tonnes), Japan (+15.8% to 96.334 million tonnes), the USA (+18% to 85.791 million tonnes), Russia (+5% to 76.894 million tonnes), the Republic of Korea (+5% to 70.418 million tonnes) and Turkey (+12.7% to 40.360 million tonnes).

Higher steel scrap usage in most countries and regions

According to our statistics, steel scrap consumption in China was 2.8% lower last year at 226.21 million tonnes, although the country remained the world’s largest user. The proportion of scrap used in China’s steel production was 21.9% in 2021 owing to an 11.5% increase in scrap-intensive electric furnace production.

Conversely, there were increases in steel scrap consumption last year in the EU-27, the USA, Turkey, Japan, Russia and the Republic of Korea.

The EU-27 recorded 16.7% growth in steel scrap consumption to 87.853 million tonnes in 2021, alongside the 15.4% increase in its crude steel production. The proportion of steel scrap used in the EU-27’s crude steel production increased to 57.6% in 2021.

The USA recorded crude steel production growth of 18% last year and an increase in steel scrap usage of 18.3% to 59.4 million tonnes. The proportion of steel scrap used in US crude steel production improved to 69.2%.

Steel scrap usage increased in Turkey last year (+15.7% to 34.813 million tonnes) while its crude steel production was 12.7% higher. The proportion of steel scrap used in its crude steel production increased to 86.1%.

Our 2021 statistics reveal an increase in Japan’s steel scrap usage (+19% to 34.727 million tonnes) compared to a crude steel production gain of 15.8%.

The 5% growth in Russia’s crude steel production last year was exceeded by the increase in the nation’s steel scrap usage (+7% to 32.138 million tonnes). The proportion of steel scrap used in Russia’s crude steel production climbed to 41.7% in 2021.

The Republic of Korea recorded an increase in steel scrap usage last year of 9.5% to 28.296 million tonnes whereas its crude steel production climbed only 5%. The proportion of steel scrap used in the Republic of Korea’s crude steel production increased to 40.1%.

It is important to note that the steel scrap usage figures in this Ferrous Mirror represent verified data for 79.7% of global steelmaking in 2021.

Turkey increases overseas steel scrap purchases by 11.4%

Last year brought an 11.4% year-on-year increase in Turkey’s overseas steel scrap purchases to 24.992 million tonnes, thus confirming the country as the world’s foremost steel scrap importer. Its main suppliers were the USA (-13.7% to 3.768 million tonnes), the Netherlands (+1.9% to 3.214 million tonnes), the UK (+1.4% to 2.337 million tonnes) and Russia (-13.6% to 2.031 million tonnes).

The EU-27 took over as the world’s second-largest steel scrap importer in 2021 (+31.1% to 5.367 million tonnes), with the region’s main suppliers being the UK (+26.8% to 1.633 million tonnes), Switzerland (+1.9% to 0.796 million tonnes) and the USA (+107.1% to 0.551 million tonnes).

The world’s third-largest steel scrap importer last year was the USA (+17.1% to 5.262 million tonnes); its main suppliers were Canada (+18.2% to 3.757 million tonnes), Mexico (+12.9% to 0.562 million tonnes) and the UK (+92.5% to 0.308 million tonnes).

Also higher last year were steel scrap imports into the Republic of Korea (+8.9% to 4.789 million tonnes), Thailand (+18% to 1.653 million tonnes), Malaysia (+9.8% to 1.533 million tonnes) and Indonesia (+3% to 1.462 million tonnes). Conversely, import declines were recorded by India (-4.6% to 5.133 million tonnes), Pakistan (-8.4% to 4.156 million tonnes), Belarus (-14.7% to 1.136 million tonnes) and Canada (-21% to 0.815 million tonnes).

EU-27 overseas steel scrap shipments climb by 11.5%

Global external steel scrap trade - including internal EU-27 trade - amounted to 109.6 million tonnes last year (+9.7% compared to 2020).

The EU-27 was the world’s leading steel scrap exporter last year in growing its outbound shipments by 11.5% to 19.460 million tonnes, the main buyer being Turkey on 13.110 million tonnes (+11.3% year on year). The EU-27 also increased its overseas shipments to Egypt (+68.4% to 1.817 million tonnes), Switzerland (+16.4% to 0.561 million tonnes) and Moldova (+37.8% to 0.346 million tonnes).

In contrast, a drop was recorded in EU-27 deliveries to Pakistan (-13.1% to 0.804 million tonnes), the USA (-3.8% to 0.604 million tonnes) and India (-22.4% to 0.535 million tonnes). The largest EU-27 steel scrap exporter in 2021 was the Netherlands, with its total shipments of 4.687 million tonnes representing a 17% increase over the previous year.

EU-27 internal steel scrap exports totalled 29.328 million tonnes in 2021 (+14.5% compared to 2020).

Last year also brought an increase in US overseas steel scrap shipments of 6.1% to 17.906 million tonnes; among the leading buyers to extend their purchases from the USA were Mexico (+51.4% to 3.142 million tonnes) and Vietnam (+44.9% to 1.435 million tonnes). In contrast, decreases in US deliveries were recorded by main customer Turkey (-14% to 3.466 million tonnes), Malaysia (-8.2% to 1.449 million tonnes), Taiwan (-10.8% to 1.423 million tonnes), Bangladesh (-0.9% to 1.356 million tonnes) and Canada (-7.3% to 0.840 million tonnes).

Last year, increases were recorded in steel scrap exports from the UK (+21.4% to 8.287 million tonnes), Canada (+7.8% to 4.863 million tonnes), Australia (+6.9% to 2.224 million tonnes) and Singapore (+35.4% to 0.685 million tonnes), whereas declines in overseas shipments were registered by Japan (-22.1% to 7.301 million tonnes) and Russia (-12.4% to 4.140 million tonnes).

Most of the world’s leading steel scrap exporters are major net steel scrap exporters: last year’s export surplus was, for example, 14.1 million tonnes for the EU-27 and 12.6 million tonnes for the USA.

For more information, please refer to the 13th edition of World Steel Recycling in Figures, which features the important new subtitle “A Raw Material for Green Steelmaking”.

Last but not least, I would like to offer my special thanks to Daniela Entzian, the BIR Ferrous Division’s Deputy Statistics Advisor, for her excellent co-operation.