Outokumpu launches Circle Green stainless steel line using biomaterials

What does the launch of Outokumpu new sustainable stainless steel line, Circle Green, mean for the industry's green transition?

Outokumpu has launched a new sustainable stainless steel line, Circle Green, with a carbon dioxide footprint 92% lower than the global industry average and 64% lower than Outokumpu’s regular production of stainless steel, the company stated in a press release in June.

The new product line achieves significant carbon reduction by relying on bio-based materials — biogas, biodiesel and bio-coke — to produce stainless steel and by purchasing electricity from low-carbon sources.

“Our emission-minimized product answers the global need for more sustainable and long-lasting products that help to build a more sustainable future. The material was produced on an industrial scale with our existing production assets. This is a key step and an essential achievement towards meeting Outokumpu’s sustainability goals,” Niklas Wass, Outokumpu executive vice president of operations, said.

The first batch was produced in Tornio, Finland, a company spokesperson told Fastmarkets on Thursday June 24. “Fiskars Group is the first company to make use of [Circle Green] as a raw material in Fiskars-branded cookware products made at [the company’s] Sorsakoshi factory in Finland.”

We see increasing global customer demand for low-carbon-footprint stainless steels, from construction to heavy industry and consumer products

Wass was upbeat about demand for Circle Green. “We see increasing global customer demand for low-carbon-footprint stainless steels, from construction to heavy industry and consumer products. I’m very happy to say that Outokumpu is now ready to answer this demand. In this first phase, we will concentrate our efforts to serve a few strategic customers, but we are already looking at ways to scale up the production.”

An East Coast distributor of stainless products was positive about its promise but said there would be challenges to seeing it adopted. “This is really great for the world, and I think all industries are headed toward lowering their carbon footprint. Unfortunately, the cost of this versus seeing [some] Asian countries not care about [advancing sustainability] will be factored in determining if this is viable.”

To achieve its lower carbon footprint with the new product, the company reduced emissions from raw material production, energy production and from each production step starting with the melt process.

Outokumpu stated that its use of bio-based materials and low-carbon electricity have eliminated 95% of the company’s Scope 1 and Scope 2 CO2 emissions.

While the bio-based materials had been tested previously in production, they were used together for the first time to produce Circle Green, according to the company.

The emission reduction calculation includes all emission scopes according to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol method to give the full picture of the emissions, the company stated.

Circle Green is not yet available in North America, according to the spokesperson for Outokumpu.

“The first batch was produced at our mill in Tornio, Finland, and we are currently studying what we’ve learned from this initial production to be able to take the best practices to other Outokumpu sites,” the spokesperson said.

Fastmarkets’ monthly assessment for stainless steel 304 cold-rolled sheet, fob mill US was $256 per hundredweight ($5,120 per short ton) on Friday June 10, down 6.57% from $274 per cwt on May 10, but up 4.92% from $244 per cwt on April 11.

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