The world’s most prestigious award programme for the circular economy, The Circulars, has highly commended ArcelorMittal for demonstrating leadership and innovation by applying circular economy principles to its business models.

By collaborating with internal experts, those from academia and its customers, ArcelorMittal is finding ways to make transformational changes to the way it does business, as it seeks to achieve its ambition of becoming a zero-waste company. Some of the ways it is doing this, acknowledged by the commendation, include:

- Partnering with technical and industry leaders to develop and scale up ground-breaking carbon capture and utilisation technology, resulting in products like Steelanol, a bio-fuel made from waste carbon monoxide, with the help of microbes. This high-grade ethanol will then be used for transportation and to make plastics. The company anticipates Steelanol could create 2000 direct and indirect jobs and generate an income of 300 million euro a year by 2025, while significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions – 5 million tonnes worth a year by 2025.

- Manufacturing ECOCEM, a low carbon cement, from its slag and selling it directly to customers. In France alone, this practice has already reduced the cement industry’s CO2 emissions by nearly two million tonnes, and from 2018 onwards it is projected to further reduce those emissions by a further one million tonnes a year. Selling this by-product generates over €100 million in revenue each year.

- Paving more than 650 km of country roads across 20 Brazilian municipalities with over 1.5 million tonnes of Revsol and Revsol Plus.  These products, made from slag, a by-product of the steelmaking process, replace natural non-renewable resources such as gravel.

- Allocating additional resources to detailed life cycle assessment of its products and developing a new sustainability assessment tool.

- Designing innovative processes and products to maximise efficiency and minimise waste in its own production and those of its customers.

- Stretching product lifecycles by leasing sheet piles for short term projects, rather than selling them – and then leasing them again. The company’s comparative studies show reusing sheet piles has 86% less global warming potential than permanent steel sheet piles and 90% less global warming potential than a concrete retaining wall. Similarly, through the circular building, exhibited at the London Design Festival 2016, the company demonstrated the concept of steel reuse for entire steel structures, given they are designed, dismantled and reused with the circular economy in mind.

- Torrefing waste wood and using it to replace coal in its blast furnaces, harnessing and using energy that would otherwise have been lost. In doing so, the company expects to recycle two to four million tonnes of waste wood each year by 2025, saving it approximately 100 million euro a year.

- The Circulars 2018, an initiative of The World Economic Forum and The Forum of Young Global Leaders, run in collaboration with Accenture Strategy and given at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos. The award recognises individuals and organisations from around the world who are making notable contributions to the circular economy.

Alan Knight, General manager, head of corporate responsibility and sustainable development said, “Being highly commended by the Circulars 2018, is a fantastic achievement and highlights how far we have come as a steel company to change not only the way we do things, but also the way we are perceived as a corporate citizen. We have long talked about the value steel brings to people’s lives and its unparalleled recyclability, but now we are finding ways to take those ideas further and become a zero-waste company by integrating circular economy principles into everything we do.”