Environment and Energy

Canada’s Steel Industry and the Environment

Canada’s steel industry is a significant force in the nation’s economy, a major employer, and an important contributor to many communities across the country. CSPA member companies recognize the importance of their environmental performance and community obligations to ensure that all Canadians continue to benefit from world-class steel production in this country. We strive for continual environmental improvement in every phase of steel production.

Our Sustainability Principles

  1. Maintain high standards of environmental performance in all aspects of operations.
  2. Work to improve company and sector performance continuously through the development and adoption of new or improved processes, practices, technologies, and products.
  3. Maximize resource efficiency in the development, production and use of steel products, including efforts to:
    1. Recover, reuse, and recycle steel;
    2. Use energy and water efficiently;
    3. Develop value-added steel products and applications;
    4. Increase the utilization of steelmaking co-products; and
    5. Reduce waste from steelmaking operations.
  4. Develop new steel products that enable more renewable energy and help other industries to improve environmental performance.
Mercury Pollution Prevention

CSPA supports the principle of utilizing mercury-free scrap steel to the greatest extent possible. As a commitment to protection of the environment, CSPA member companies have adopted a policy to require that all steel mill scrap be mercury free. All member companies have voluntarily included these new requirements in their scrap purchasing policies. Scrap suppliers are required to demonstrate that they have programs in place to identify, remove, track and properly dispose of all sources of mercury in the scrap sold to CSPA member companies. Member companies perform audits of scrap suppliers to ensure that such requirements are being met.

Since 2008, CSPA and the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association have jointly supported a national program called “Switch Out” to remove mercury from the steel scrap stream. Operated by Summerhill Impact (formerly the Clean Air Foundation), the Switch Out program works directly with automotive recyclers and dismantlers to remove, collect, and manage mercury-containing switches and ABS sensor modules from end-of-life vehicles (ELVs). Once the switches are removed, the ELVs are then flattened, shredded, and recycled into new steel. The program also provides training and educational resources to recyclers and dismantlers. For additional information about Switch Out, please visit http://www.switchout.ca/.

Switch Out has now operated for six years. With the continued active participation of automotive recyclers and dismantlers across Canada, 52,027 mercury switches were collected in 2013. Table 1 summarizes the collection results for 2008-2013.

Table 1: Switch Out Program Results








Switch Collection Target







Number of Switches Collected







Actual Capture Ratea







Effectiveness Rateb

Not applicable for first year of national switch collection program






a The anticipated number of mercury switches available for collection is based upon a similar model utilized in the U.S.-based National Vehicle Mercury Switch Recovery Program.  Details of the U.S. model are available at: http://www.elvsolutions.org/model.html.

bEffectiveness rate is defined as one (1) minus the ratio of the number of accessible mercury switches annually managed from end-of-life vehicles that are dismantled, recycled, shredded or crushed by vehicle recyclers; to the cumulative number of accessible mercury-containing switches managed to-date. The effectiveness rate increases as more switches are collected.

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Energy Efficiency

Benchmarking Energy Intensity in the Canadian Steel Industry can be accessed here.

We are proud that Canada’s steel companies have been independently benchmarked as performing at a high rate of implementation of “Best Available Technology Economically Achievable” (BATEA).

This is a critical concept for the CSPA as it captures not just world-class technology, but the competitiveness pressures of a highly capital-intensive industry operating in one of the most open and competitive steel markets in the world.

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