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.

CSPA Environmental Performance - 2012 Results

Performance metrics of our member companies for key environmental indicators are presented below.

These environmental performance indicators include data from the following facilities unless otherwise indicated: AltaSteel, ArcelorMittal Dofasco, ArcelorMittal Contrecoeur, ArcelorMittal Contrecoeur Ouest, Essar Steel Algoma, EVRAZ Inc. NA Canada (Regina), Gerdau Cambridge, Gerdau Manitoba, Gerdau Whitby, Ivaco Rolling Mills, U. S. Steel Canada – Hamilton Works, and U. S. Steel Canada – Lake Erie Works.

Operating levels at Canadian steelmakers continued to recover in 2012 from the historically low levels experienced in 2009 as a result of the global economic downturn. Levels of steel production in 2012 were slightly higher than the previous year (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Steel Production in Canada (1990 – 2012)

Air Emissions

Nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions have improved by 20 % since 1990 (Figure 2). Emission rates for 2012 are generally comparable to those recorded over the past two years and indicate that performance levels have stabilized since the global economic downturn. Over the same period, sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions measured at integrated steel mills improved by 66 % (Figure 3). Benzene emissions continued to decrease in 2012, reaching their lowest level since 1990 – a 90 % reduction over that time period (Figure 4). The low benzene emission intensities in recent years are the result of projects implemented at a number of Canada’s integrated steel mills.

Emissions of total particulate matter (TPM) have shown a slight increase above 1990 levels (Figure 5). The recorded emission levels are somewhat higher than in the recent past as member companies have made use of equipment with improved precision to measure these emissions. In addition, the facilities of all member companies were in operation throughout much of the year. In 2010, particulate matter emissions were lower as some facilities were not operating near capacity, or were not producing for parts of the year.

Figure 2: Nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from CSPA member companies (1990 – 2012)

Figure 3: Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions from CSPA member companies (1990 – 2012)

Figure 4: Benzene emissions from integrated steel mills (1990 – 2012)

Figure 5: Total Particulate Matter (TPM) emissions from CSPA member companies (1990 – 2012)

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Water is used in the production of steel for cooling and cleaning, as well as to control dust and emissions. Programs are in place at CSPA member companies to reduce water consumption, and to protect water quality by treatment of process water before returning it back to the natural environment. In 2012, the amount of suspended materials in discharged water increased slightly from the previous year. This increase is believed to be due to the quantity of suspended material in the intake water. Industry-wide, Total Suspended Solids remain 40% lower than those recorded in 1995 (Figure 6).

Figure 6: Total Suspended Solids (TSS) discharged from integrated steel mills (1995 – 2012)

Steel Recycling

Steel is the most recycled material on earth. Scrap steel is a key input to the steelmaking process and can be recycled repeatedly. In 2012, Canadian steelmakers recycled over 6 million tonnes of scrap steel – the equivalent of recycling 6.4 million cars (Figure 7). Canadian steelmakers have recycled more than 174 million tonnes of steel since 1990.

Figure 7: Steel scrap recycled by CSPA member companies (1990 – 2012)

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Climate Change and Energy Conservation

The data presented in this section are from the Canadian Industrial Energy End-use Data and Analysis Centre (CIEEDAC) at Simon Fraser University. They do not include 2012 data which are not yet available. The energy intensity performance of Canada’s steel industry in 2011 is comparable to that achieved prior to the global economic crisis in 2009. The sector’s energy intensity for 2011 is 15% below 1990 levels, and its 2011 carbon dioxide intensity is 17% below 1990 levels (Figures 8, 9). Absolute CO2 emissions are 21% below those of 1990 (Figure 10).

Figure 8: Energy Intensity for Canada’s Steel Sector (1990-2011)

Figure 9: Carbon dioxide (CO2) Intensity for Canada’s Steel Sector (1990-2011)

Figure 10: Absolute carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions for Canada’s steel sector (1990 – 2011)

Waste Management

CSPA member companies have almost completely eliminated PCB-containing equipment. As of 2012 98% of PCB-containing equipment has been removed from service since 1990 (Figure 11).

Figure 11: Equipment containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at CSPA member companies (1990 – 2012)

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.

Together with the General Scrap Program of EVRAZ Inc. North America in Western Canada, almost half a million switches have been removed from the Canadian steel recycling stream since 2008 (Figure 12).

Figure 12: Number of mercury containing automobile switches removed through Switch Out and the General Scrap Program of EVRAZ Inc. North America (2008 – 2012)

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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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