Where old refrigerators go when they die. When Nucor introduced the mini mill in the United States in 1969, we introduced recycling to the steel industry. And drastically changed the steel production landscape of this country. In fact, mini mills now produce the majority of this country's steel. Recycling 65 million tons of steel per year. Changing the country's landscape as well. Because all of that old steel now goes into new steel. Instead of into landfills.
Recycled Steel: An environmental success. Many years ago, a fledgling steel recycling industry was born, based not on environmental reasons, but solely upon strong economic potential. This industry was the Electric Arc Furnace Industry (EAF). The concept was simple: use scrap metal as the feedstock and melt it with electrical energy. The world was awash in scrap yards where once useful automobiles, appliances and demolition material now slowly rusted into oblivion. While the motivation was purely economic, the result was a boon to the environment and a new highly efficient steel industry. The economics were simple: plentiful, cheap raw materials combined with a much smaller melting and rolling process, capped off with a growing economical and reliable energy system. The scaled down size provided the setting for what would be called the mini mill or as we know it now, the steel recycling mill.
In its infancy, the mini mills were supposed to be little operations that produced low end materials used as rebar and small structural components. With large quantities of scrap metal available for use, the mini mills quickly developed into new markets and learned to exploit the advantages of their technology. In less than a decade the mini mill recycling process began competing directly with the old school of steel making-the integrated mill.
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Case Study: Wireless improves process operations at steel recycling mill
Learn more about our environmental stewardship
- Steel is the most recycled material in the
world; Nucor Corporation is the largest recycling company
in the Western Hemisphere!
- In 2006, heavy structural beams and plates were recycled at a 96% rate, while 60% of rebar was used again.
- Over 2.6 million tons of appliances and almost 1.6 million tons of steel cans were recycled in 2006!
- 5400 BTU's of energy are conserved for every pound of steel recycled!
- The White House Task Force on Recycling listed eight categories of benefits from recycling, all applicable to steel: reduces the need for new landfills; prevents emissions of many air and water pollutants; saves energy; supplies valuable raw materials to industry; creates jobs; reduces greenhouse gas emissions; stimulates the development of greener technologies; and conserves resources for our children’s future.
Find out our tons of steel recycled already this year...
2006 Recycled Content of Nucor Steel Products (PDF)
2006 Nucor Regional Material Contacts (PDF)
U.S. Green Building Council: What is LEED?