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EMR achieves world’s first Environmental Product Declaration for ultra-low carbon reusable steel sections

Jack Arksey

Reusable steel
Reusable steel

Leading metal recycler EMR has gained the world's first Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) for its reusable steel product, paving the way for the wider uptake of this transformative low carbon solution by architects, developers and the construction industry.

An Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) provides an independently-verified summary of the environmental impact of a product through its life-cycle, calculated via a life-cycle assessment (LCA).

Without the need for remelting, long-distance transportation and the addition of nature-depleting iron ore, reusing steel beams and columns recovered by EMR within end-of-life buildings creates 97.5 percent less carbon emissions than conventional steel products (47kgCO2e per tonne compared with the World Steel Association’s global average for steelmaking of 1,850kgCO2e).

Working with Metsims Sustainability Consultancy, EMR has obtained the EPD (S-P-06356) at a time when around 70 percent of international and European green building standards offer credits for the use of materials labelled by an EPD.

A recent report published by indicated that approximately 72 percent of construction product clients want sustainable or green products, with EPDs helping firms stand out in a competitive market.1 EMR’s customers can now compare its independently-verified low carbon reusable steel with more traditional competitor products on the EPD Portal where information about the EPD programme operator, EPD expiry date, verification status and verifier can all be found.

EMR’s reusable steel is produced via a five-step process, starting with identification of potential reusable steel before a demolition project begins, then careful removal of material during demolition as well as the assessment, testing and characterisation of the steel products. Once this is complete, extraneous materials are removed alongside any surface coatings before the reusable steel is sold and distributed for use in the next generation of sustainable construction products.

EMR will continue to invest in creating a commercial-scale supply chain for reusable steel to add value and support our demolition suppliers. EMR is already in advanced and detailed conversations with several customers to deliver reusable steel into active development projects.

EMR currently operates processing sites for reusable steel in Birmingham and South East London. Over the next 5 years, the company plans to open a series of Regional ‘hub’ facilities across the UK to keep pace with growing demand for reusable steel. This will help to create a market that also encourages others to join the reusable steel sector.

Bill Firth, General Manager for Business Development at EMR said:

“We’re delighted that EMR has achieved the world’s first Environmental Product Declaration for its transformative, ultra-low carbon reusable steel. Our reusable steel products are manufactured from steel sections which have previously been utilised within a structure or have been fabricated for a defined project and this determines our process boundary as a reusable steel within our EPD.

“Embodied carbon emissions related to the building materials used in construction can represent as much as half the total carbon footprint of an overall development. Developers and their designers can reduce carbon impact substantially by substituting beams and columns made from higher carbon impact primary steel with comparable ultra-low carbon impact reused steel sections. As the industry urges the government to introduce legislation targeting embodied carbon (via the Part Z update to UK building regulations), EMR’s reusable steel highlights how the industry is innovating and stepping up to make the changes needed to help decarbonise the construction sector.”

“While use of EMR’s reusable steel is unlikely to fully replace traditional steel products in the construction industry, by using a blend of both products when designing and constructing the buildings of the future, the industry will be able to cut the embodied carbon of their projects and meet the growing demand for sustainable office space, public building and homes.”

For more information visit: Reusable Steel Environmental Product Declaration