About the toolkit
Steel is one of the most widely used and resource intensive materials used in construction. Although commonly recycled at end of life, the reuse of steel is minimal despite the apparent environmental, carbon and circular economy benefits.
The purpose of the toolkit is to provide major supply chain stakeholders involved in steel reuse, ranging from demolition contractors to clients, with guidance, business considerations, case studies and more, to facilitate new market entrants and achieve a greater supply of reused steel in the construction industry.
What is in the toolkit?
A set of business considerations has been developed for major supply chain stakeholders involved in steel reuse, ranging from demolition contractors to clients. These considerations cover technical, supply chain, economic, and carbon savings, as well as other benefits. These have been collated through desktop research, interviews with respective supply chain stakeholders, and insights from industry experts in steel reuse.
Some of the business considerations are self-explanatory, while others have more detailed information, including references to industry guides, steel reuse models, and reviewed case studies. These business considerations form the foundation of a toolkit that aims to facilitate new market entrants and, ultimately, to expand the market for steel reuse.
We are grateful to Howard Button from NFDC, Michal Drewniok, Michael Sansom from BCSA, Penny Gowler from Eliott Wood, Rachel Hoolahan from Orms, Roy Fishwick from Cleveland Steel and Tubes, and Will Arnold from #IstructE for their input and time in reviewing the business considerations. We are also thankful to the supply chain stakeholders who shared their experiences with steel reuse and provided information on case studies.
Technical, supply chain and economic considerations for a range of supply chain stakeholders.
Four scenarios have been developed for structural steel reuse. These scenarios include one current scenario for 2023, and three future scenarios for 2030, 2040, and 2050. Each scenario includes the annual availability of structural steel for reuse, as well as the carbon and socioeconomic impact of steel reuse. Please note that scenarios focus specifically on columns and beams as the main structural elements currently reused.
Diagrams demonstrating steel recycling (BAU) and three main steel reuse supply chain models.
A short literature review of the steel industry and steel reuse, including barriers and enablers.
As part of the DISRUPT project 11 case studies have been collated on steel reuse, covering a range of different building types, sizes, locations, and procurement routes for construction and infrastructure projects.
See below to view the case studies!
Steel reuse case studies
The Alliance for Sustainable Building Products is pleased to have led the DISRUPT project (Delivering Innovative Steel ReUse ProjecT) which has sought to explore the innovative reuse of structural steel in construction and encourage the adoption of new circular economy business models that can help tackle the climate emergency.
The DISRUPT project team is made up of steel reuse experts Cleveland Steel and Tubes Ltd, global construction company ISG and the National Federation of Demolition Contractors. Supporters of the project include the Grosvenor Group, one of the world’s largest privately-owned international property businesses.
Cleveland Steel and Tubes are one of the largest stockholders of repurposed steel tubes in Europe and have partnered ASBP on a number of circular research projects over the past 10 years, in addition to supporting the ASBP’s Reusable Products and Buildings Network.
Steel is one of the most widely used and resource intensive materials used in construction. Although commonly recycled at end of life, the reuse of steel is minimal despite the apparent environmental, carbon and circular economy benefits. The high value of steel at end of life can be realised by being reused in a wide range of construction applications.
Previous studies have shown that there are barriers to reuse including economic factors, supply chain issues, availability, and lack of demand. New business models are required to ensure that the benefits of steel reuse are accrued across the value chain and underpin the activities of existing and new actors.
DISRUPT seeks to address these challenges by bringing together the leading actors involved in steel construction reuse – client, contractor, and stockist, and those that will be particularly impacted by the transition from a recycling to a reuse model, such as demolition contractors.
A detailed feasibility study will be undertaken focusing on real life case studies which track the ‘journey’ of reused steel from start to finish, providing a rich data source covering different sizes and types of projects, and variability in geographical location across the UK.
The project will deliver new costed circular business models that can act as a blueprint for other companies interested in entering the reuse sector, ultimately to achieve a greater supply of reuse steel into the marketplace. If steel reuse is to become mainstream, it is imperative that new business models are profitable and equitable to the whole value chain, and that reused steel is readily available and easy to specify within construction projects.
DISRUPT aims to prove that steel reuse can have a major role to play in mitigating climate change.
With thanks to our funders and supporters
The project has received funding via Innovate UK’s Circular Economy for SMEs competition, in collaboration with the NICER programme, a four-year £30 million investment from UKRI consisting of one hub and five specialist research centres aiming to grow the circular economy community through a significant programme of outreach and collaboration. The project received a letter of support from the Interdisciplinary Centre for CircularMetal.