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How sustainable is stainless steel?

08 March 2023
How sustainable is stainless steel?

Stainless steel is regarded as a sustainable material in various sectors, in some cases even among the best to use. Whether in construction, the energy sector or the transport industry, stainless steel is perfect precisely because of its special characteristics.

Stainless steel, one of the most sustainable materials in the world​

At a time when companies are increasingly required to account for their impact on the environment - and compensate for it when necessary (read about IRINOX's commitment to the environment here), the choice of materials and their suppliers is essential.

There are many other characteristics of stainless steel that make it one of the most sustainable materials in the world, including:

  • Low environmental impact: it is important to minimise the pollutants generated during the production of stainless steel and that no harmful substances are emitted throughout the product's life cycle, even in the event of deterioration.
  • Fully recyclable, special care is taken during the disposal, recycling, and reuse phase. For stainless steel one can in fact speak of down-cycling, due to the fact that it can be recycled through use in lower-level applications (up to 90% can be reused in other sectors). According to data collected by ISSF (International Stainless Steel Forum), each stainless steel object contains 60 % recycled material.
  • Durable over time, thanks to the surface passivated layer film, which makes it resistant to corrosion and aggression from external agents, so that stainless steel is practically an 'eternal' material.
  • Low disposal costs, which prevents the accumulation of material in landfills.
  • It does not emit harmful substances: during and throughout the life of the installation, stainless steel, even if deteriorated, does not emit any pollutants or substances harmful to humans, making it totally hygienic.

Other valued characteristics of stainless steel​

Depending on the sector of application, in addition to the sustainable component, stainless steel has always been recognised for many intrinsic characteristics.

  • In construction, for example, steel is ideal for its lightness and ease of processing.
  • In the interior design sector, for example, its lustre and durability make it one of the most suitable materials.
  • In the restaurant industry, on the other hand, the excellent hygiene of stainless steel is crucial, as it is very easy to clean and does not emit any pollutants or substances that are harmful to humans (discover our Hygienic range here).
  • In the marine industry, for example, its high degree of corrosion resistance is important given the material's contact with water or salt water.
  • In the renewable energy sector, on the other hand, the material's resistance to dynamic loads and high temperatures are crucial.

In which sectors is stainless steel recommended?​

There are various sectors for which the use of a resistant material such as stainless steel is recommended, but one of the first is certainly civil construction. In fact, stainless steel has always been used in this sector for the construction of bridges, art installations and buildings.

Another example of a sustainable material is the industrial production of manufactured goods. But that's not all, this material is also commonly used in the restaurant industry, in furniture, in plumbing, in the nautical/naval sector, in the production of profiles, frames and supports for the thermal insulation of a building, allowing for better efficiency and therefore considerable energy savings.

Last but not least, the use of stainless steel in the energy sector. In fact, it is used for the construction of machines and devices for the production of energy from renewable sources. For example: wind turbines, photovoltaic and solar thermal plants.

 
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