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Ongoing BIR World Recycling Convention in Amsterdam: Ferrous Division - Statistics: 14th Edition of “World Steel Recycling in Figures”

  • 23 May 2023

At the BIR Ferrous Division meeting today in Amsterdam, Divisional President Denis Reuter announced the release of the 14th edition of “World Steel Recycling in Figures”, covering the five-year period from 2018 to 2022, while divisional Statistics Advisor Rolf Willeke reviewed some of its key findings.

The latest edition of this established report reflects the significant decision by the BIR Ferrous Division board to replace the term “steel scrap” with “recycled steel”.

The following is Rolf Willeke’s summary of the main news and findings contained in the 14th edition of “World Steel Recycling in Figures”, which includes a special overview of the three leading recycled steel importers and flow charts for the eight main recycled steel exporters. Altogether, the publication incorporates a total of 60 graphs and tables.

Global crude steel production down by 3.9%

Global crude steel production totalled 1885.0 million tonnes last year for a decline of 3.9% over 2021, according to worldsteel. The data show a decrease in crude steel production in all regions of the world except for the Middle East.

Despite a drop of 1.8% to 1384.8 million tonnes, Asia remained the world’s largest crude steel producer. Regionally speaking, the lowest crude steel production was recorded by Oceania with a year-on-year dip of 2.9% to 6.2 million tonnes. Elsewhere, the totals were as follows: EU-27 (-10.8% to 136.2 million tonnes), Other Europe (-12.3% to 45.8 million tonnes), CIS (-20% to 85.8 million tonnes), North America (-5.5% to 111.3 million tonnes), South America (-5% to 43.3 million tonnes), Africa (-5.2% to 21.1 million tonnes) and the Middle East (+6.6% to 50.4 million tonnes).

A significant change of wording

Starting from this latest edition of “World Steel Recycling in Figures”, the Ferrous Division board has decided to replace the term “steel scrap” with “recycled steel” following a suggestion from the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, which has been using the term “recycled steel” in its publications for some months now. As we enter a new era of communication, the aim of this move is to resonate even more effectively with the public and with policy-makers.

Adoption of the term “recycled steel” underlines the importance of this raw material. From BIR’s own calculations and those of worldsteel, it has been concluded that 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. The term also reinforces the importance of recycled steel for “green” steelmaking.

Lower recycled steel usage in crude steel production

According to BIR’s statistics, China’s recycled steel consumption was 4.8% lower year on year at 215.31 million tonnes in 2022. There was also a decline in the country’s crude steel production (-1.7% to 1018.0 million tonnes). With its share of global crude steel production running at 54%, China remained the world’s largest recycled steel user.

Lower percentage declines in recycled steel usage when compared to crude steel production were registered by the EU-27 (-9.7% to 79.347 million tonnes versus -10.8% to 136.221 million tonnes), the USA (-4.7% to 56.6 million tonnes as compared to -6.1% to 80.535 million tonnes) and Japan (-5.7% to 32.769 million tonnes as against -7.4% to 89.238 million tonnes).

As a result of these developments, the proportions of recycled steel used in crude steel production were increased last year to 22.2% in China, to 58.2% in the EU-27, to 70.3% in the USA and to 36.8% in Japan.

Conversely, steeper percentage declines in recycled steel usage when compared to crude steel production were registered by Turkey (-13% to 30.271 million tonnes versus -12.9% to 35.134 million tonnes), Russia (-8.6% to 29.374 million tonnes as compared to -7.2% to 71.469 million tonnes) and the Republic of Korea (-7% to 26.315 million tonnes as against -6.5% to 65.865 million tonnes).

As a consequence, last year saw a decline in the proportion of recycled steel used in crude steel production to 86.3% in Turkey, to 41.1% in Russia and to 39.9% in the Republic of Korea.

Iron/steel foundries use nearly 68 million tonnes of recycled steel in 2021

The calculation model for global recycled steel use in iron and steel foundries is produced in collaboration with the German Foundry Association (BDG). These calculations cover the period from 2015 to 2021. For 2021, global recycled steel usage of 67.8 million tonnes has been calculated (+1.3% compared to 2020) for a world iron and steel casting production total of 78.3 million tonnes (-7%).

Turkey’s overseas recycled steel purchases fall 16.5%

Last year brought a 16.5% decrease in Turkey’s overseas recycled steel purchases to 20.876 million tonnes. However, the country remained the world’s foremost recycled steel importer, with its main supplier being the USA (+4.9% to 3.953 million tonnes).

India was the world’s second-largest recycled steel importer in 2022 (+63.2% to 8.376 million tonnes), with its main suppliers being the USA (+1783.1% to 1.322 million tonnes), the UK (+224.1% to 1.024 million tonnes) and Singapore (+22.6 to 0.429 million tonnes).

And the USA was third in last year’s recycled steel importer league table despite a decline of 10.3% to 4.720 million tonnes; its main suppliers were Canada (-6.6% to 3.508 million tonnes), Mexico (+11.7% to 0.628 million tonnes) and Sweden (+68.3% to 0.175 million tonnes).

In 2022, recycled steel imports increased into Mexico (+4.3% to 2.940 million tonnes), Thailand (+6.7% to 1.764 million tonnes) and Canada (+33% to 1.084 million tonnes). By contrast, import declines were posted for 2022 by the Republic of Korea (-2.1% to 4.689 million tonnes), the EU-27 (-29.4% to 3.901 million tonnes), Taiwan (-6.4% to 2.890 million tonnes), Indonesia (-17.9% to 1.200 million tonnes) and Malaysia (-67.6% to 0.496 million tonnes).

Figures for Pakistan, Bangladesh and Vietnam were not available ahead of the editorial deadline.

EU-27 keeps position as world’s top recycled steel exporter

Global external recycled steel trade - including internal EU-27 trade - amounted to 97.6 million tonnes last year (-14.9% compared to 2021).

The EU-27 maintained its position as the world’s leading recycled steel exporter in 2022 despite a 9.4% year-on-year decline in shipped volumes to 17.596 million tonnes; the main buyer was Turkey (-18.9% to 10.563 million tonnes). Decreases were also registered in EU-27 shipments to Egypt (-21.2% to 1.432 million tonnes), Pakistan (-4.3% to 0.772 million tonnes), Bangladesh (-368.7% to 0.703 million tonnes) and Switzerland (-13.9% to 0.483 million tonnes). In contrast, the EU-27 increased its overseas shipments to India (+156.4% to 1.373 million tonnes) and Morocco (+69.7% to 0.536 million tonnes).

The EU-27’s largest recycled steel exporter last year was the Netherlands (-18.3% year on year to 2.938 million tonnes). Also in 2022, the EU-27’s internal recycled steel exports totalled 26.445 million tonnes for a year-on-year drop of 10.4%.

There was also a decline in recycled steel shipments out of the USA last year (-2.4% to 17.476 million tonnes), although it remained the world’s second-largest recycled steel exporter; the main buyers were Mexico (+11.2% to 3.493 million tonnes), Turkey (-2.9% to 3.366 million tonnes) and India (+201.3% to 1.907 million tonnes).

Export declines were also recorded last year by Japan (-13.6% to 6.307 million tonnes), Canada (-4.1% to 4.664 million tonnes), the UK (-0.6% to 8.241 million tonnes) and Australia (-16.1% to 1.867 million tonnes). However, export increases were registered in 2022 by Mexico (+11.5% to 0.822 million tonnes) and Singapore (+5.4% to 0.722 million tonnes).

Most of the world’s leading exporters are major net recycled steel exporters: last year’s export surplus was, for example, 13.7 million tonnes for the EU-27 and 12.8 million tonnes for the USA. As can be noted in the publication, US and EU export prices followed a largely parallel course in 2022.

In Amsterdam, Mr Willeke extended his deep thanks to the BIR Ferrous Division board, to the BIR Secretariat and to all those supporting the “World Steel Recycling in Figures” publication. He also offered special thanks to Daniela Entzian - who has stepped down from her position as Ferrous Division Deputy Statistics Advisor - for her outstanding co-operation over recent years.