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World Steel Recycling in Figures: January-June 2023 update

In the first half of 2023, global crude steel production totalled 943.9 million tonnes for a decline of 1.1% over the same period in 2022, according to worldsteel.

Data show a decrease in crude steel production in most regions for this year’s January-June period: EU-27 (-10.9% to 66.3 million tonnes); Other Europe (-14.1% to 20.2 million tonnes); North America (-3.5% to 54.8 million tonnes); South America (-7% to 20.4 million tonnes); and Oceania (-2.5% to 3.07 million tonnes). Conversely, the data indicate a year-on-year increase in crude steel production in January-June 2023 for Asia (+0.7% to 705.1 million tonnes), Africa (+4.1% to 7.6 million tonnes) and the Middle East (+3% to 23.0 million tonnes).

China continues to hold the dominant position in world steel output with an increase of 1.3% in the first half of this year to 535.6 million tonnes to claim a 56.7% share of global production.

China’s recycled steel usage down by 2.9%

In all major countries and regions, recycled steel consumption headed lower in the first half of 2023. Despite the above-mentioned increase in its crude steel production, China’s consumption of recycled steel was 2.9% lower year on year at 116.23 million tonnes, although the country remained the world’s largest user.

Lower percentage declines in recycled steel usage when compared to crude steel production were registered in the first half of 2023 by the EU-27 (-9.6% to 40.021 million tonnes versus the aforementioned -10.9% to 66.322 million tonnes) and Japan (-4.3% to 16.171 million tonnes as against -4.7% to 43.833 million tonnes). Conversely, higher percentage declines in recycled steel usage when compared to crude steel production were recorded by the USA (-3.1% to 21.8 million tonnes versus -2.9% to 39.855 million tonnes), Turkey (-16.4% to 13.677 million tonnes as against -16.3% to 15.916 million tonnes) and the Republic of Korea (-1.5% to 13.916 million tonnes as compared to -0.5% to 33.675 million tonnes).

The proportions of recycled steel used in crude steel production in the first half of 2023 were 21.7% in China, 60.3% in the EU-27, 54.7% in the USA, 38.1% in Japan and 41.3% in the Republic of Korea. Particularly noteworthy was the high figure of 87.2% for Turkey.

The importance of steel recycling

From our own calculations and those of worldsteel, it has been concluded that some 630 million tonnes of recycled steel are used each year in global steel production, thereby preventing almost 950 million tonnes of CO2 emissions while also saving energy and conserving natural resources.

As explained previously, the BIR Ferrous Division is now using the term “recycled steel” in order to resonate more effectively with the public and policy-makers in highlighting the importance of our material for global steelmaking.

Turkey’s overseas recycled steel purchases cut by 22.9%

The first half of 2023 brought a 22.9% decrease in Turkey’s overseas recycled steel purchases to 9.637 million tonnes; however, the country remained the world’s foremost recycled steel importer. Main suppliers were the USA (-10.8% to 1.990 million tonnes), the Netherlands (-6.4 % to 1.089 million tonnes) and Belgium, the only supplier to record growth compared to January-June last year (+9.2% to 0.960 million tonnes).

India was the world’s second-largest recycled steel importer in the first half of 2023 and recorded a strong year-on-year increase of 105.5% to 5.491 million tonnes. The USA was in third place after registering an increase of 4.1% to 2.611 million tonnes.

Recycled steel imports also increased into Taiwan during this year’s January-June period (+18.8% to 1.760 million tonnes). By contrast, import declines were posted in the first half of 2023 by the EU-27 (-8.6% to 2.171 million tonnes), the Republic of Korea (-21.8% to 2.117 million tonnes), Mexico (-18.2% to 1.415 million tonnes), Indonesia (-18.5% to 0.519 million tonnes) and Canada (-2.5% to 0.431 million tonnes).

EU-27 maintains position as top recycled steel exporter 

The EU-27 maintained its position as the world’s leading recycled steel exporter in the first half of 2023 with a 4.5% increase in shipped volumes to 9.074 million tonnes. The main buyers were Turkey (-4% to 5.654 million tonnes), India (+230.2% to 0.733 million tonnes) and Egypt (+3.5% to 0.647 million tonnes). Other leading buyers in this period were the USA, Norway, Pakistan, Morocco and Switzerland.

Also in the first half of 2023, there were increased recycled steel shipments out of Japan (+10.2% to 3.466 million tonnes) and Canada (+5.3% to 2.497 million tonnes). An export decline was recorded by the USA (-9.2% to 8.240 million tonnes) but the country retained its position as the world’s second-largest overseas shipper of recycled steel.

Export decreases in the first half of 2023 were also registered by Mexico (-6.3% to 1.854 million tonnes), Australia (-3% to 0.871 million tonnes), Singapore (-2.6% to 0.365

million tonnes) and South Africa (-59.2% to 0.100 million tonnes).

Parallel in export prices

US and EU export prices followed a largely parallel course in the period under review. From May to June 2023, prices for HMS 1 in the USA and 80/20 in the EU increased to, respectively, US$ 369 and US$ 378 per tonne.