Have you ever stopped to wonder what type of materials are used in so many appliances, objects and products you use on a daily basis? Everything we use was invented, processed, made and put together by someone, somewhere. Not to mention, there are natural resources and energy used to produce the materials that go into making the objects we use every single day.
Let?s take steel, for instance. Steel is made into a variety of things from hinges on different appliances, to construction, to buildings, bridges and other structures. It comes in many different forms, as well, from stainless steel, to stainless strapping, to galvanized steel.
How much do you actually know about steel, what it is, what goes into making it and what it is used for? Probably not very much unless you work in construction or in a steel factory.
When you find the best steel, it is of quality, highly efficient, and marked for a good price. It is not always easy to find the best quality for a good price, though. That could be due to the fact that it is a widely used and popular material.
For being such a widely used and popular material, it is good that it is one of the most recycled materials on Earth. Otherwise, we would be wasting a resource over and over again. The American Iron and Steel Institute actually reports that it is widely recycled. Statistics from the institute estimate that 88 percent of steel used throughout the entire world is recycled.
So, what does steel come from? How is it recycled?
Steel turned into stainless strapping and galvanized steel can be recycled from a variety of things such as old recycled stock, old byproducts, processing liquids, steelmaking slags and dust. Overall two-thirds of the steel produced in the world is recycled from some of the above-stated items.
In North America, more than half of the steel is recycled every year. Currently, it is around 69 percent that is recycled.
How does recycling help?
When a ton of steel is recycled, other materials are conserved. For example, 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of cole, and 120 pounds of limestone are conserved for every one ton of steel that is recycled.
Along with the recycling of steel, people have found ways to conserve energy in the production of steel over the past decades. Since 1972, we have cut energy usage by 34 percent when producing a ton of steel. Let?s take the Golden Gate Bridge, for example. When it was built, they needed 83,000 tons of steel. It would only take half that amount of steel now due to improvement and changes made over the years in the steel industry.
Additionally, many stainless steels are very efficient and resistance. Even so, they can react to changes in temperature. When they react to temperature changes, the steel expands and contracts. This has such an effect on structures and different buildings made from steel that they are actually taller and shorter depending on the season. For instance, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France is a full six inches shorter in the winter because the steel, whether it is stainless strapping or galvanized steel banding, contracts when it is cold.
So, the next time you reach for an item made of steel or you use an appliance that has a steel hinge like the refrigerator, you will probably give some thought to all the processes used to produce the steel and the advancements made in recent decades to do in an environmentally-friendly way.
Have you ever considered the impact of materials and resources used to make the objects we use every day like stainless strapping and steel varieties? Let us know in the comments your thoughts on finding ways to cut down on energy use when producing materials.