Scrap is a valuable raw material for stainless !
It is said that virtually all the gold ever produced is still in existence. It is a valuable metal that does not degrade. The same should be said of stainless. It is a valuable resource that does not degrade with time. Of course some does go to landfill, but more is being recovered at end of life and long may this continue.
There are three main sources of stainless scrap. The first is internal run-around, also called revert or in-house scrap. This arises from losses from the molten steel tapped from the converter to the finished sheet, bar or wire. The second is new scrap, also called fabricator scrap arising from when the final product is fabricated.
Finally there is end of life, or obsolete scrap where the final product has reached the end of useful service which in the case of stainless varies from several years to decades. Chart 1 shows the traditional global view of the raw materials share for stainless.
The scrap industry plays a valuable role in collecting, sorting, sampling and blending scrap to a tight chemical spec. Most scrap is segregated and sold in that form. The industry also creates austenitic stainless scrap by combining ferritic scrap with high nickel alloy scrap, chrome fines etc.
WBMS has trade data for stainless scrap for Jan-Oct 2019 compared with the prior period in 2018. Total global scrap exports increased from 4.4 Mt in 2018 to 4.7 Mt in 2019. The “top ten” shown in chart 2 accounted for 3.0 and 3.2 Mt respectively.
Germany and The Netherlands are traditionally strong in stainless scrap trade and processing. Most of the other countries are significant users and in many cases rolling stainless but less dominant in melting. There has been no significant change year on year by country.