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World Steel Recycling in Figures: January-September 2023 update

In the first nine months of 2023, global crude steel production totalled 1.407 billion tonnes for a small increase of 0.08% over the same period in 2022, according to worldsteel.

As the following data show, there were year-on-year decreases in crude steel production in most regions for the January-September 2023 period: EU-27 (-9.07% to 96.1 million tonnes); Other Europe (-9.25% to 30.7 million tonnes); North America (-3.3% to 82.2 million tonnes); South America (-6.2% to 30.9 million tonnes); the Middle East (-0.6% to 32.6 million tonnes); and Oceania (-1.4% to 4.6 million tonnes). Conversely, there was a year-on-year increase in crude steel production for Asia (+1.6% to 1.051 billion tonnes), Africa (+4.1% to 7.6 million tonnes) and the CIS (+2% to 66.3 million tonnes).

China continues to hold the dominant position in world steel output with an increase of 1.7% for the first nine months of 2023 to 795.1 million tonnes, equivalent to a 56.5% share of global production.

China’s recycled steel usage down by 1.9%

In all major countries and regions, recycled steel consumption headed lower in the first nine months of 2023. Despite the above-mentioned increase in its crude steel production, China’s consumption of recycled steel was 1.9% lower year on year at 167.60 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 nine months of 2023 by the EU-27 (-7% to 57.006 million tonnes versus -9.07% to 96.1 million tonnes) and Turkey (-9.8% to 21.283 million tonnes as against -10.1% to 24.5 million tonnes for crude steel production).

Conversely, higher percentage declines in recycled steel usage when compared to crude steel production were recorded by the USA (-1.6% to 41.8 million tonnes versus -1.4% to 60.6 million tonnes), Japan (-4.5% to 23.734 million tonnes as against -3.6% to 65.4 million tonnes) and South Korea (-1.6% to 20.013 million tonnes as compared to -0.4% to 50.4 million tonnes).

For the first nine months of 2023, the proportions of recycled steel used in crude steel production were 21.1% in China, 59.3% in the EU-27, 68.6% in the USA, 36.3% in Japan and 39.7% in South Korea. Worthy of particular note was recycled steel’s 86.7% share of crude steel production in Turkey.

A significant change of wording

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

From our own calculations and those of worldsteel, it can be 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.

Turkey’s overseas recycled steel purchases cut by 16.4%

The first nine months of 2023 brought a 16.4% decrease in Turkey’s overseas recycled steel purchases to 14.108 million tonnes; however, the country remained the world’s foremost recycled steel importer. Its main suppliers were the USA (-0.02% year on year to 3.247 million tonnes), the Netherlands (-4.95% to 1.517 million tonnes) and Belgium t (+8.01% to 1.272 million tonnes).

India was the world’s second-largest recycled steel importer in the first nine months of 2023 and recorded a strong year-on-year increase of 82.3% to 8.231 million tonnes. For the first time ever, Vietnam occupied third place among the world’s recycled steel importers in registering an increase of 18.2% to 4.030 million tonnes.

Recycled steel import increases were also registered during the January-September 2023 period by the USA (+1.4% to 3.765 million tonnes) and by Egypt (+1206.7% to 1.621 million tonnes). By contrast, import declines were posted in the first nine months of 2023 by South Korea (-19% to 3.016 million tonnes), the EU-27 (-2.3% to 2.981 million tonnes), Mexico (-1.4% to 2.155 million tonnes) and Taiwan (-5.4% to 2.033 million tonnes).

EU-27 maintains position as top recycled steel exporter 

In the first three quarters of 2023, the EU-27 maintained its position as the world’s leading recycled steel exporter with a 4.5% increase in shipped volumes to 13.871 million tonnes. The main buyers were Turkey (-4.6% to 7.948 million tonnes), India (+110.1% to 1.447 million tonnes) and Egypt (+5.3% to 1.095 million tonnes), while other leading purchasers were the USA, Pakistan and Morocco.

An export decline in the first nine months of 2023 was recorded by the USA (-4.3% to 12.489 million tonnes), although the country retained its position as the world`s second-largest

overseas shipper of recycled steel. The main buyers of US material were Mexico (-21.6% to 2.160 million tonnes), Turkey (-23.5% to 2.042 million tonnes) and Bangladesh (-52.9% to 0.672 million tonnes), with other leading purchasers during this period being Taiwan, Vietnam and India.

The first nine months of 2023 also brought an increase in recycled steel shipments out of Japan (+9% to 5.125 million tonnes), Australia (+1.9% to 1.422 million tonnes), Mexico (+8.9% to 0.688 million tonnes), Switzerland (+16.7% to 0.600 million tonnes) and Brazil (+87.2% to 0.574 million tonnes). However, export decreases were recorded by the UK (-12% to 5.448 million tonnes) and Canada (-53.4% to 1.619 million tonnes).

Parallel export price developments

US and EU export prices followed largely parallel courses across the first three quarters of last year. In September, US export prices for HMS 1 were in the range of US$ 350 to US$ 363 per tonne while the EU price for HMS 80/20 shipments to Turkey was US$ 370 per tonne.