Rise of Stainless Steel

Stainless steel earned its popular name because the material boasts a natural ability to maintain a “stainless” untouched shiny appearance even after being exposed to a number of damaging factors such as heat, spills, and splatters. Furthermore, stainless steel is resistant to corrosion, bacteria, and of course stains. These qualities have made stainless steel a popular choice when it comes to making kitchen appliances, as well as in the chemical, automotive, transportation, and construction industries. Also known as “inox steel”, stainless steel contains a minimum of 10.5 percent of chromium by mass. First introduced in 1915, the versatile mechanical and anti-corrosive properties of this metal have helped it retain its popularity for more than century.

Stainless Steel is Recyclable

Global organizations and governments all over the world have begun to recognize the importance of choosing sustainable and recyclable materials to have a minimized impact on the precarious environmental conditions. Along with its other features, stainless steel is now being recognized for its environmental properties too. This material is 100 percent recyclable. Check the current steel price per pound here. When used in long-term projects, stainless steel manages to hold its own and last for the lifetime of most projects. Even after the lifespan of the material used in a particular project is at an end, stainless steel boasts a high life recapture rate.

While recycling, stainless steel offers worthwhile recovery without any degradation. The process of recycling the material is very similar to that used for producing stainless steel. In fact, an average stainless object is made up of approximately 60 percent of recycled material. This makes recycling stainless steel a cost-effective prospect. Furthermore, stainless steel comprises of a number of costly raw materials such as chromium, nickel, iron, and molybdenum. These individual raw materials also have a high demand in the market. According to the International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF), stainless steel objects almost never become waste at the end of their use. The estimated End of Life Recycling ratio of stainless steel is up to 90 percent.

Recycling a ton of stainless steel helps save 1,100 kilograms of iron ore, 630 kilograms of coal, and 55 kilograms of limestone. This is not just theoretical, it is a financially viable practical prospect too, making steel the most recycled material in the world.

In industrial usage, there is a constant tussle between choosing a material that is green and environmental friendly, and a material that is cost-effective to use in large-scale projects. Stainless steel solutions generally meet both these criteria offering an optimum resolution.

Sustainable Stainless Steel

Built in 1930, the Chrysler building in New York is one of the prominent examples to emphasize the sustainability of stainless steel. Subjected to pollution, bad weather, and minimal maintenance, the building’s pinnacle that is made of Nirosta stainless steel (Type 302) is in good condition after decades of use. The world-famous monument Atomium in Brussels, Belgium was renovated in 2006, and the sphere-and tube-cladding was changed to the more durable stainless steel from erstwhile aluminum. While other materials are known to lose effectiveness in terms of functionality and appearance, stainless steel architecture tends to stand the test of time. It is important to choose the right type of stainless steel after considering the environmental corrosion conditions.

Uses of Stainless Steel

  • Construction: When selected properly, stainless steel is one of the most sustainable building and construction materials available today.
  • Household Use: While making consumer durables such as refrigerators and other appliances, stainless steel is the preferred material due to low maintenance costs, long lifespan of material, and high recycling potential.
  • Medical, Food Processing & Storage, and Catering: Stainless steel is a popular option in these industries because this material is not harmful to people. Its upper layer contains chromium that makes it non-corrosive and safe for handling even during its production process. The material also resists bacterial colonization, and can be easily cleaned and sterilized.

The demand for stainless steel is so high in 2015 that along with the theoretical maximum content of material from recycled products, millions of tons of virgin material will need to be added to the recycling loop. By recycling this material, users can help to keep it out of landfills, pull it back into production, and make some money while helping the environment.