Environment

Our aim is to minimize our emissions and environmental impacts

We constantly research and develop new ways of operating to reduce the environmental impact of stainless steel and its production. Our growing environmental efficiency is based on long-term efforts and continuous improvement.

Ambitious climate targets

Outokumpu has committed to the Business Ambition for 1.5 degrees to mitigate climate change. The commitment is part of our ambitious sustainability strategy as we aim to be the industry benchmark in line with our vision to be customer’s first choice in sustainable stainless steel.

Tornio mill from the air
Protecting the climate

We are developing our operations to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. Currently we are on track to meet our short-term target of reducing our emissions by 20% by 2023. By working closely with our customers, we help them to develop solutions that further decrease their carbon footprint and reduce burden on climate.

Outokumpu’s carbon footprint is less than 30% of the global industry average. Key reasons are for our low carbon footprint are our own ferrochrome, high recycled content and the use of low carbon electricity.

Outokumpu publishes environmental product declarations (EPDs) on its main products using life cycle inventory data. This means our customers are able to calculate the sustainability performance of their product life cycles.

 

Science Based Targets initiative

Outokumpu signed the membership of the Science Based Targets initiative in 2016. The initiative considers companies’ greenhouse gas reduction targets science-based if they are in line with the level of decarbonization required to keep global temperature increase well below 2°C compared to the pre-industrial temperature.

Our target is to reduce scope 1, 2, and 3 greenhouse gas emissions by 20% per tonne of stainless steel by 2023 from a 2014–2016 base-period. We have developed a science-based reduction target on direct and indirect CO2 emissions intensity and included the upstream emissions in the reporting.

In May 2021, we announced our more ambitious climate targets and our commitment to the Business Ambition for 1.5°C objective. The amount of the company specific CO2 emission reductions will be determined during the approval process with the SBT organization.

 

Energy efficiencyWindmill in Tornio

Stainless steel production is energy intensive. We are determined to make our operations more energy efficient by maximizing the use of electricity with a low carbon footprint in our operations. The keys to reducing our carbon emissions are to increase our energy efficiency and the use of low carbon energy sources.

Our approach to energy efficiency is long term, and the target is a continuous improvement of a 0.5% reduction yearly. The largest energy-saving potential lies in the use of process gas or CO gas from ferrochrome production, the recovery of waste heat, improved process integration and improved efficiency in using raw materials.

In all new investments or replacement investments, energy efficiency is improved and energy saving is a target. We also systematically monitor and analyse energy consumption. Over a ten-year period 2010-2020, our improvement of energy efficiency calculated as a sum of different process steps was 7% compared to the baseline 2007–2009.

Outokumpu's production sites use a range of energy sources, such as natural gas, propane, heavy fuel oil and electricity. Outokumpu participates in low-carbon energy programs in nuclear power, wind power, combined heat and power and LNG. In 2020, approximately 76% of electricity came from renewable and low-carbon sources.

 

Circular economy

Outokumpu uses high amounts of recycled materials. Currently, Outokumpu's rate of recycled content is the highest in the industry, over 90%.

Stainless steel is endlessly recyclable without any loss in quality. It is also the most efficient way to reduce the environmental impact of production processes enabling us to produce sustainable stainless steel. So, we continuously aim for higher recycling rates in our operations.

 

Sustainability_ Dillenburg meadow 02
Environmental impacts

Protecting the environment in the locations where we operate is our highest priority and a part of our licence to operate.
We have made significant investments in environmental protection over the past years and we will continue to develop our processes even further. We aim to have a minimal impact on nature and biodiversity.

The most substantial environmental impacts that result from the production of stainless steel include emissions of dust and particles into the air, discharges of water from production plants, and direct and indirect energy consumption during production.

 

Biodiversity

Nature surrounding sites – a special focus of ours

Outokumpu’s impacts on nature and biodiversity are minimal. The production of stainless steel does not occupy or reserve large areas of land nor have a significant effect on environmental biodiversity.

However, Outokumpu has identified high biodiversity areas that are owned by the company or that are adjacent to our sites. The current operational sites with these areas include Calvert, Alabama in the US, Dahlerbrück in Germany, as well as Kemi and Tornio in Finland. These sites count for 80% of total owned land, and no negative impacts have been documented in impact studies.