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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

These are the three ‘R’s of the waste hierarchy and the Australian steel industry is well qualified to be supplying a leading construction material that contributes to all three aspects.

Waste hierarchyReduce

Steel’s high strength to weight ratio means that in most construction situations, use of a structural steel frame reduces foundation loads. Off-site precision fabrication also reduces waste and site transport. Research by the steel industry has achieved and is leading to the development of ever stronger steels which reduce the amount of steel needed for the same outcome.


Steel construction components have the ability to be reused in their original state. This attribute is becoming more widely recognised with structures increasingly being designed for deconstruction, and the steel components being permanently identified for future reuse (see Design for deconstruction and reuse).

Re-use has significant benefits in energy consumed as per the following graph:

Reduce reuse graph


Recycling is the process of converting waste materials into new materials and products; these can be the same or different to the original material or product. Steel is 100% recyclable and the world's most recycled construction material.

Recycled steel accounts for significant energy and raw material savings including over 1,400 kg of iron ore, 740 kg of coal and 120 kg of limestone saved for every 1,000 kg of steel scrap made into new steel (Sustainable Steel – Policy and Indicators 2014, p.5, worldsteel).

The Hyder Report “Waste Ferrous metal in Australia” 2009, records that over 90% of all steel in Australia is recycled into prime new steel products.

Recycling - New steel from oldRecycled steel

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Australian steel waste recovery

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