Ferrous recyclers have called on EU legislators to relax regulations that they say prevent steel producers processing a “scrap reservoir” of around 2.5 billion tonnes.
The European Ferrous Recovery and Recycling Association (EFR) believes that steel producers using electric arc furnaces (EAFs) should be encouraged because they have a ‘symbiotic relationship’ with the scrap industry.
An EFR report has warned that EAFs faced a “higher regulatory cost per tonne” than those using basic oxygen furnaces (BOFs) or blast furnaces.
It said EAFs produce 42% of all EU crude steel from scrap, whereas blast furnaces and BOFs mainly use virgin iron ore.
EFR said: “The two partners, scrap collectors and EAF steelmakers, should create a stronger alliance to defend their common interests as well as the common good.”
According to the report, EU scrap collection is “significantly lower” than potential scrap arising from steel production and use. It said the EU has a growing steel scrap reservoir of about 2.5 billion tonnes.
The report also called on the EC to harmonise scrap quality specifications to boost trade.
EFR president Tom Bird said: “Export restrictions and high regulation costs on the EU scrap recycling industry will have a detrimental impact on EU’s employment, trade relations and environment.
“Scrap collectors and processors, along with the EAF steel industry, enjoy a symbiotic relationship that needs to be nurtured, not put at risk by unintended consequences of new regulation.”
Report author Marcel Genet said: “The EU has a huge and growing scrap reservoir. There is no risk of scrap shortage that would justify export restrictions. Moreover, export restrictions will not increase domestic EAF steel industry output, since that is driven by domestic demand.”
In the UK there are EAFs in Sheffield, Rotherham, Sheerness and Cardiff.
In June the European Commission (EC) launched a plan to boost the steel industry over concerns that a number of steel plants in the EU have closed down since 2011.
The EC said companies had been hit by “fierce global competition, the economic crisis, the evolution of prices of raw materials and energy and some excessive legislation”.
The EU steel industry employs around 360,000 people and has a turnover of around €170bn.