BIR World Recycling Convention & Exhibition: Scrap Becomes Increasingly Important

According to the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR), the consumption of secondary material rose by 6.4 percent to 503.437 million tons. The steel scrap usage figures represent verified data for 79.7 percent of global steelmaking in 2021.

Every year on the occasion of the BIR World Recycling Convention in spring, Rolf Willeke, Statistics Advisor of the organization’s Ferrous Division, presents the “World Steel Recycling in Figures” for a whole year. Despite the pandemic, 2021 witnessed a higher steel scrap usage in most countries and regions.

According to the statistics, global crude steel production totaled 1.952 billion tons in 2021, up 3.8 percent from the previous year. Global oxygen furnace production was almost unchanged at 1.381 billion tons whereas the electric furnace production intensified by 14.4 percent to 563 million tons, Rolf Willeke referred to worldsteel’s information. There were also increases in the global production of both blast furnace iron (+1.2 percent to 1.346 billion tons) and DRI (+9.9 percent to 114.5 million tons).
As reported, China’s crude steel production decreased in 2021 by three percent to 1.033 billion tons, reducing the country’s share of global production from 56.6 percent in 2020 to 53 percent in 2021. In contrast, enhanced crude steel production was registered in 2021 by the EU-27 (+15.4 percent to 152.575 million tons), Japan (+15.8 percent to 96.334 million tons), the USA (+18 percent to 85.791 million tons), and Turkey (+12.7 percent to 40.360 million tons), to name but a few.

Higher steel scrap usage
According to the statistics compiled by Rolf Willeke and Daniela Entzian, the BIR Ferrous Division’s Deputy Statistics Advisor, the steel scrap consumption in China (226.21 million tons) was 2.8 percent lower than in 2020, although the country remained the world’s largest user.

Conversely, the EU-27 recorded a growth of 16.7 percent (to 87.853 million tons) in steel scrap consumption in 2021. The proportion of steel scrap used in the EU-27’s crude steel production climbed to 57.6 percent in 2021. The USA realized an increase in steel scrap usage of 18.3 percent to 59.4 million tons. The proportion of steel scrap used in US crude steel production improved to 69.2 percent. Steel scrap usage increased also in Turkey (+15.7 percent to 34.813 million tons); the utilization rate improved to 86.1 percent. The 2021 statistics revealed, too, an increase in Japan’s steel scrap usage (+19 percent to 34.727 million tons).

Imports and Exports
Last year brought an 11.4 percent year-on-year increase in Turkey’s overseas steel scrap purchases to 24.992 million tons, thus confirming the country as the world’s foremost steel scrap importer, the statistics advisors informed. The EU-27 took over as the world’s second-largest steel scrap importer in 2021 (+31.1 percent to 5.367 million tons). The world’s third-largest steel scrap importer last year was the USA (+17.1 percent to 5.262 million tons). Global external steel scrap trade amounted to 109.6 million tons last year (+9.7 percent compared to 2020).

The EU-27 was the world’s leading steel scrap exporter and intensified its outbound shipments by 11.5 percent to 19.460 million tons; the internal steel scrap exports in the EU countries totaled 29.328 million tons in 2021 (+14.5 percent compared to 2020). Last year also brought an increase in US overseas steel scrap shipments of 6.1 percent to 17.906 million tons. As reported, 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 tons for the EU-27 and 12.6 million tons for the USA.

(Published in GLOBAL RECYCLING Magazine 2/2022, Page 10, Photo: O. Kürth)