Stainless steel is an energy intensive industry, although the end product is durable and recyclable. Therefore, Outokumpu reduces its environmental impact by proactively developing our production processes, material and energy efficiency and the recycling of waste, as well as by minimizing dust emissions and wastewater loads. Outokumpu has invested heavily in environmental protection – altogether over EUR 450 million during the past 15 years.
Emissions and potential impurities efficiently controlled
In stainless steel production, the largest environmental impacts include dust emissions into the air, water discharges from production, use of direct and indirect energy, and waste created in the production process.
Steel melting and rolling processes generate dust and scales that are collected, treated, and when possible, recycled in our own production. We use efficient dust filtering systems that remove 99% of the particles. All precautions have been taken into consideration and the input material is pre-checked for exluding any unwanted content, such as mercury and radioactive contaminated material, which do not belong in the stainless steel production.
Water is used in our production process in annealing, pickling and cooling phases. Water is treated and recycled whenever possible, and only some purified water is discharged to the municipal wastewater system. Before discharging, all wastewater is treated either in the company’s own treatment plants or in municipal water treatment systems.
Management systems ensure compliance at local level
Outokumpu has constantly improved its energy efficiency in all production sites by optimizing internal supply chains and increasing capacity usage globally. All sites are certified according to quality ISO 9001 and environment ISO 14001 management systems. Proper implementation of these systems is monitored by internal and external audits.
The work for further energy reduction and increased efficiency in all production units is continuous. Our environmental management systems are a key element in ensuring our compliance with industry standards and regulations.
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.