Sustainability Awards

2017 Sustainability and Safety Awards

Tokyo, 18 May 2017 – The International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF) has announced the winners of the Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards in the categories Sustainability and Safety during their 21st conference (ISSF-21) which was held in Tokyo on 18 May 2017.

Safety Awards

The ISSF promotes Safety Awareness among all its members, together with a Safety Programme which is driven by the CEOs of its members. The Board adopted the World Steel slogan “Nothing is more important than the safety and health of the people who work in the steel industry”. From this basic statement, the following guiding principles were developed:

  • All injuries and work related illnesses can and must be prevented.
  • Managers are responsible and accountable for safety and health performance.
  • Employee training is essential.
  • Working safely is a condition of employment.
  • Excellence in safety and health contributes to excellent business results.
  • Safety and health must be integrated into all business management processes.

These principles are worth repeating, because they place the responsibility for safety management and control equally on the management and employees.

The ISSF introduced a Safety Award Programme which invited members to submit good ideas from their Safety Programmes. Those good ideas are circulated among other members, following the simple premise that everyone can learn from the mistakes or accidents of others. The winners have the benefit of peer recognition and a Certificate which can be used in their own publications. Everyone who submits an entry is recognised by having their entry included in the ISSF Annual Safety Awards Report, which is circulated to all members and published on the ISSF extranet.

The standard of entries remains very high. Having decided to introduce second and third placed winners to increase the incentive to submit entries for these Awards, we actually awarded two joint winners in both second and third places, because the entry quality was so high.

In first place we selected Acerinox Europe SAU, for an innovative design for a new lifting device for the tundish, to avoid the risk of injuries to hands and fingers as well as the head or body.

In joint second place are Columbus Stainless and Aperam Genk which focused on reducing accidents and damage to material and improving controls and safety in their transport fleets. This is a timely reminder that our safety programmes are not confined only to the plants, but extend outwards along the routes taken by our transport. The third place is shared by JFE Steel and POSCO, who have made innovative use of films and DVDs for Safety Training.

All entries will be included in the Awards Brochure which will be published shortly.

Sustainability Awards

The commonly understood meaning of “sustainability” is a development which conserves an economic balance. In recent years the environmental lobbyists have been active in extending the reach of this definition, to include a wide range of add-ons. It is no longer sufficient to have a long lasting product, it must have a high rate of recyclability; it must comply with a number of broadly similar, but different initiatives such as REACH and LEED, which acquire regulatory force; and it must have a demonstrable Life Cycle Assessment, undertaken by a suitably qualified Institute. It must also cope with the wide ranging attacks on raw material elements which are considered to be hazardous, even when apparently “locked-in” to an alloy.

Where it was once sufficient to show you did not discharge hazardous waste to water air or land; and to show you recycled and used recycled scrap; and to show you measured your CO2 emissions; now the scope of sustainability is widening year by year.

This is a non-competitive issue and one where bench-marking against best in field practices is surely beneficial for the industry as a whole. It is important to show the public and the local, regional and central governments an industry which is determined to do what is practically possible to sustain the environment.

To provide a platform from which best practices can be circulated, and to inspire deeper thought about these issues, the ISSF surveys its membership every year about best practices in Sustainability and publishes the results, so that each can learn from the others.

To encourage participation, a competition is held, based on the responses from members to select the best entry, followed by two runners-up. These Awards have value, because they are a recognition of excellence in this field, and the Certificates may be used in promotional literature.

For this year, although we received very few entrants, what we did receive continued to show a very high standard. All those who entered are congratulated on their very good efforts. There can, unfortunately be only three winners, but as I noted under the Safety Awards, there are no losers - all of this work has a value.

The winner for 2017 is Outokumpu, for an interesting development of plant-to-port transport at their Avesta plant, using alternatives to fossil fuels.

In second place is POSCO for its work in conserving energy.

In third place is Slovenian Steel Group for a project which uses high temperature waste heat from the furnace to provide energy for the neighbouring district.

2016 Sustainability and Safety Awards

The International Stainless Steel Forum announced the winners of their two Premier Annual Awards during their Annual Conference in Helsinki on 25 and 26 May. The winner of the Sustainability Award is Outokumpu, for maximising water recycling in their Cold Rolling Plant in Mexico. The winner of the Safety Award is  North American Stainless, for their Safety Performance Improvement project.


San Luis Potosi, Mexico, where Outokumpu’s Mexinox cold rolling mill is located, is an arid area, where groundwater is a scarce and valuable asset for people and livestock. Reducing the volume of water which is required for their production increases the volume that can be used for other vital human needs.

The progression of water recycling at Mexinox has been based on long term projects. In 2001 the environmental regulations made it necessary to examine new ways to re-use and re-cycle water in their production processes.

This improvement process has continued during the intervening years. Among the most recent investments is a new Crystallizer plant, which was installed in 2013. This plant has resulted in savings in energy and money as well as providing additional environmental protection. CO2 emissions from this water treatment process decreased by 95%. Their investments in wastewater treatment plant processes have made water recycling significantly more efficient. The solution with high concentration of salts coming from the evaporation phase is heated in order to evaporate the water and to collect the waste material in crystal form. Today 99% of waste waters are treated, recycled and reused in cold rolling plant. This level is considered to be unique in the industry. To follow up on the progress, the plant has established yearly internal targets for water use in the mill. The savings in fresh water consumption are equivalent to the quantity consumed by 1,100 households. For 2015, fresh water consumption in the cold rolling mill was extremely low (1.22 m3/t) and well below the target (1.50 m3/t).

The plant has also achieved its target of saving water use on a per rolled ton of steel basis. “For us to continue recycling water is important because it allows us to contribute to environmental care as an organization. We fulfil the environmental regulations and give an example of social responsibility”, says Jorge Vieyra, head of production and environmental management at Mexinox.

A more detailed report on this project can be found on the worldstainless website. Click here.


In 2014 North American Stainless ended the year with 4.51 recordable injuries per million man hours worked and 1.13 lost time injuries. They recognized that greater employee engagement in safety programs could lead to further reductions‎ in injury levels. Some employees were hesitant to participate in safety programs and others seemed to feel that safety was not their responsibility. Management realized that they needed a greater level of involvement, input and participation from their employees to improve the safety process.

In order to achieve this goal, they did three things:

  1. They widened the Incident Reporting System to include Near Miss Reports and added a time limit to complete the reports (72 hours for high risk; 7 days for medium risk and 30 days for low risk); and
  2. They introduced a Behavioural Based Observation (BBO) Safety Program with all employees completing BBO’s; and
  3. Managers, Supervisors and Group Leaders began conducting safety talks every morning throughout the plant.

For 2015 their employees completed 19,628 BBO’s and 113 near miss reports. All near miss reports were investigated as if they had been an injury and alerts were distributed to all employees for review and discussion and any BBO’s that required follow-up were automatically entered into the Safety Review system.

Management noticed that employees have become much more aware when it comes to safety. If anyone enters the plant without the appropriate PPE, they will be stopped. Employees have become much more open with the Safety Coordinators and they raise issues and ideas about safety.

With the increased level of employee awareness and participation NAS have been able to significantly reduce their recordable and lost time injuries and they ended 2015 with a 0.93 Total Recordable Injury Rate and a 0.07 Lost Time Injury Rate, which is an outstanding improvement in safety performance after only one year.

A more detailed report on this project can be found on the worldstainless website. Click here

All of the entries which were received for these Awardshave been printed in a brochure which can be downloaded from the ISSF website. Click here.

2015 Sustainability and Safety Awards

The International Stainless Steel Forum announced that the winners of this year’s Sustainability Award is Aperam for reducing emissions to air, a project which lasted from 2005 to 2015. The Safety Award was given to Jindal Stainless for reducing carbon monoxide levels to eliminate the explosions in the dust plant.

The Aperam Belgium plant is located near the city of Genk, which has 65,000 inhabitants. They faced the challenge of significantly minimising dust emissions so they did not affect air quality in the local area. They have implemented an extensive action plan at three levels: operational; managerial; and communications. They also organised an Environmental Day for an open exchange with all stake holders. This allowed them to share their test results and data measurements in a transparent way. They managed to significantly reduce their emissions to air. Compared to 2006, they reduced emissions to air by 72% in 2014. Due to lower dust emissions, they have received fewer complaints from the neighbourhood in the last four years. This shows their good results and a positive and strong relationship with local residents. Finally, their efforts have resulted in Aperam obtaining a new environmental permit for their plant. The full case study can be downloaded from the worldstainless website. Click here.

Jindal Stainless reduced the carbon monoxide levels to eliminate explosions in the dust plant. The carbon monoxide level must be controlled to prevent the risk of explosions. The opening and closing of valves was controlled so that when the CO content in the fume gas exceeds 3%, the valve opens to the maximum to provide fresh air to the bag house. During this operation the valve temporarily halts the suction of dust. After this modification, the chance of an explosion in the bag house was eliminated. The full case study can be downloaded from the worldstainless website. Click here.

All entries have been printed in a book which can also be downloaded from the worldstainless website. Click here.

Sustainable Stainless Awards 2014

The International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF) presented its annual Sustainability Awards during the organisation’s 18th conference (ISSF-18) held in Rome. TheISSF has split the Sustainability Award into two categories from this year, to recognise sustainability initiatives in two categories – People and Profit/Planet.

Fifteen member companies submitted a total of 27 case studies for consideration. The overall standard of the submissions has been improving year-by-year and this year the judging process was made extremely difficult by the strength of the competing entries.

In the People category, Outokumpu was recognised for its landmark study of the incidence of cancer in Stainless Steel industry employees in comparison with the figures shown by the general public. Carried out in cooperation with the Finnish Cancer Registry (part of the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare), the study examined cancer rates amongst people employed at the Kemi Chromite Mine and the Tornio Ferrochrome and Stainless Steel Mills during the 34 years from 1967 to 2004.
The study found that the overall incidence of cancer among employees was similar to that which was found in the general population in the same region, while the risk of lung cancer risk was actually lower among Stainless Steel Industry employees. Read the full case study here

The winner of the Planet/Profit category was Nippon Steel & Sumikin Stainless Steel Corporation (NSSC). Over the past 15 years the company has followed a detailed action and investment plan to recover and recycle refractory waste from its operations.
When the project began, NSSC only recycled 6% of its refractory waste. As a result of the improvements and investments which the company has made, that recycling rate is now 100% which has dramatically reduced landfill space required and provided NSSC with a valuable source of steelmaking raw materials. Read the full case study here

A brochure containing details of all 27 case studies can be downloaded free of charge from the Publications Section of the website. You can click here

Sustainable Stainless Award 2013

The International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF) has announced that the 2013 Sustainability Award was presented to Acerinox during ISSF’s 17th Annual Conference which is being held in New Orleans, USA. Acerinox’s winning entry outlined how the company is recovering valuable raw materials from scale created during the stainless steel production process.

Twelve companies submitted a total of 25 case studies for consideration in the 2013 Award. All entries were ranked against five criteria:

  1. Applicability to other companies
  2. Ease of understanding
  3. Innovation
  4. Positive impact on the environment
  5. Financial impact on the industry

Acerinox’s entry scored the highest against these criteria. In their case study, Acerinox outlined how they have developed a new process to package waste scale into briquettes which have a high metallic content. The briquettes can be fed back into the furnace to make new stainless steel. This process has a positive environmental impact as less waste needs to be transported and less raw materials need to be brought in.

All 25 case studies are available in the 2013 Sustainability Award booklet which can be downloaded here.


ISSF announces 2012 Sustainability Award winners

Beijing, 17 May 2012. The International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF) has announced the winners of its 2012 Sustainability Award. The Award was first presented in 2011 and recognises the outstanding contribution of ISSF Member companies to the sustainability of the global stainless steel industry.

The 2011 edition of the Award attracted 17 entries from 11 of ISSF’s member companies. This year the number of entries has more than doubled to 36, and 15 companies are taking part. In 2012 the list of categories has also been expanded to include projects which add value for customers.

In recognising the high standard of the entries this year, the selection committee decided to present the 2012 Sustainability Award to three companies. The winners are:

  • Aperam (France) for its SolarStyl® building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) system. Aperam has created a new stainless steel product for BIPV installations which decreases the cost of photovoltaic modules and increases their performance. Through the SolarStyl® system, Aperam is promoting the use of photovoltaic energy and contributing to the development of renewable energy.
  • Nippon Metal Industry Co., Ltd. (Japan) for its improvement in recycling performance. Nippon Metal Industry has been trying to find ways to recycle waste products from the stainless steelmaking process. As a result of the company’s efforts, the amount of pickling sludge going to landfill has declined from 100% to zero. Around 9,500 tonnes of pig iron containing nickel and chromium has been recovered in the three years since the project began.
  • Taiyuan Iron & Steel Group Co. Ltd. - TISCO (China) for its system to reuse the remaining heat in steam. TISCO has implemented technical measures which turn low quality heat and steam into electric power. The system has cut the company’s energy consumption and improved its environmental performance. In 2004, TISCO recovered around 0.8% of remaining heat and steam. By 2011 this had risen to 4.7%. The amount of power generated from remaining heat and steam has risen from 1.9% of total energy needs per annum to 17% as a result.

All entries are available in the ISSF 2012 Sustainability Case Studies brochure.

2011: Sustainability award for Outokumpu

The International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF) has granted the first ISSF Sustainability Award for Outokumpu. The acknowledgement was received in ISSF Annual General Meeting in Madrid, Spain on 22 May 2011. The recognition was based on Outokumpu's determined actions and great achievements in reducing waste to landfill and increasing material efficiency in Sheffield.
David Martin, chairman of the ISSF Health & Environment Committee comments: "Outokumpu's Sheffield melting shop case is an excellent example of sustainable development. Minimising waste is in everyone's interest and this case demonstrates significant improvements with clear figures."
Outokumpu established a sustainable recovery and re-use route for different stainless steel waste in Sheffield. Slag was re-used in the production of asphalt and waste refractory material was used as a substitute for limestone in the stainless steelmaking process. These actions have led to dramatic reduction in waste to landfill. Since 2007 over 80% of all slag has been recovered and re-used as road stone in the asphalt production. During 2010 half of all refractory waste generated on site was re-used as a lime substitute.
Outokumpu's CEO Mika Seitovirta comments: "I'm pleased and honored to receive recognition for our efforts in the area of sustainability. This encourages us to work towards our long-term target - minimum waste in the production process."

Download PDF details of the 2011 Award Submissions: ISSF 2011 Sustainability Case Studies