US Steel Exec: Sustainability ‘an integral part of the overall strategy’

US Steel Exec: Sustainability ‘an integral part of the overall strategy’

When you think of a steel mill, you most likely conjure up images of rows of chimneys emitting black clouds of soot. Sustainability is probably one of the last things you think about.

Well, Rich Fruehauf would like to change all that.

He is the Chief Strategy and Sustainability Officer at US Steel (X) the famous American company founded over a century ago by legendary CEOs Andrew Carnegie, JP Morgan, Charles Schwab and Albert Gary.

“I have a rather strange nickname, but that’s intentional,” said Fruehauf, who was in New York recently for Climate Week NYC, a gathering of influential leaders in climate action.

“Sustainability is not an add-on for us. It is an integral part of the overall strategy.”

“Steel is infinitely recyclable”

Fruehauf, 52, He joined US Steel in 2014 as Assistant General Counsel for Commercial Affairs, took over as Senior Vice President in 2019, and took up his new position last year.

“Steel is infinitely recyclable,” he said. “It does not lose any of its performance properties when it is re-melted in an electric arc furnace. It is the most recycled material on earth.”

In April 2021, US Steel stated that it plans to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, as the Pittsburgh Company ramped up efforts to “become an industry leader in low-carbon steel production methods.”

Fruehauf said that while steel accounts for about 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the United States is doing better than the global average.

Nearly two-thirds of American steel is produced by electric arc furnaces, which produce less carbon dioxide, while a third is used by blast furnaces.

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This contrasts with Europe, where these numbers are reversed. Frohauf said that China, India and Russia are more oven-intensive

cut off greenhouse gases

“If you produce a ton of steel via the electric arc furnace route, the greenhouse gas emissions are about 75% lower than if you produce a ton of steel via the blast furnace route,” he said.

Last year, the company said it closed its acquisition of Big River Steel, which Fruehauf said produces about 3.2 million tons of steel annually using electric arc furnaces.

“When you use steel scrap, you can really reduce the greenhouse gas intensity per ton of steel produced. So Big River was a huge step forward,” he said.

Big River, Osceola, Ark. , is the first LEED-certified steel production facility in the United States, referring to “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design,” a third-party green building certification program.

β€œElectric arc furnaces allow us to be a more competitive steel company, but also a more environmentally friendly steel company,” said Fruehauf.

sustainable way

US Steel is looking to build a non-original electric steel line in Big River, with a capacity of 200,000 tons per year. Work is expected to begin in mid-2023.

NGO steel is the most widely used primary material for electric motors, alternators, and alternators, and US Steel has expanded in this area to support increased vehicle electrification in all major automakers.

β€œOur customers have announced their own sustainability goals,” Fruehauf said. β€œThey want to partner with suppliers who can support them and offer the kinds of products that meet their performance needs but are also made in a sustainable way.”

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In addition, US Steel last year launched a brand of steel called verdeX, which uses up to 90% recycled steel and produces low greenhouse gas emissions.

“When people think of crucifixion, they say it’s part of the problem. But it’s actually part of the solution,” Frohoff said.

“Local Manufacture”

When talking about US Steel, Fruehauf noted the importance of these first two letters.

He said, “There is a lot of talk about resettlement, and I would say we never left. We’ve always been here in the United States, so we don’t need to be resettled.” This is the process of re-production that has been moved abroad to the United States

While it is good for people to realize the importance of globalization, he added, “there is also something to be said about making manufacturing local.”

Fruehauf has identified some of US Steel’s highlights over the years, a list that includes being the first multi-billion dollar commercial enterprise, the first company to have a code of conduct, as well as where the phrase “safety first” was coined.

β€œThere is a great history,” he said, β€œbut we have to change it so that we can preserve it as a vital and viable part of our economy for another 120 years.”

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