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Why we care about sustainability

Joe Balzano, CEO, EMR USA

Joe Balzano
Joe Balzano, CEO, EMR USA

Few would disagree that climate change is well and truly upon us. After all, barely a day goes by without an extreme weather event making the headlines. One of the greatest and perhaps easiest ways in which we can all help to reduce the impact of climate change and reduce the industrial emissions that accelerate global warming, is by focusing on sustainability. Here at EMR USA ‘encouraging sustainability’ is our mantra. As a global leader in sustainable materials, we’re proud to be playing a crucial role in creating an increasingly circular and sustainable world.

It’s fair to say that everyone in our organization, regardless of role, goes to work in the morning knowing that the company they work for is making a massive difference to the world of recycling – and is pioneering innovative green solutions to combat some of the planet’s starkest challenges.

Just like my colleagues at EMR USA – and those at the many other EMR locations globally – I head home at the end of each day feeling immensely proud that the EMR family is helping make a real difference to sustainability. And that’s a powerful motivator: one that inspires us to encourage our customers to recycle as much as possible; one that drives us to continually seek-out new technologies and innovative solutions to make recycling more efficient and effective – and one that equips us to instill, wherever possible, the very real benefits of behaving in a sustainable manner. At EMR USA, we take sustainability very seriously.

Becoming a better business

Our efforts to become more sustainable are also helping EMR USA to become a better business. As we move towards our goal of cutting emissions and waste, not only do we avoid their negative environmental impacts, but we also enjoy operational efficiencies that enable us to be more competitive in our markets. That makes business sense and also creates the opportunities that help generate more profits for investment in new recycling technologies, in education, and in even more worthwhile, well-paid jobs.

Lowering the carbon intensity of customer products

Our work in sustainability is also creating a compelling message for our customers. That’s because, by cutting carbon out of recycling, we’re helping our many supply chain partners across the USA to benefit from incorporating low and zero-carbon materials into their products.

What is also important to them is the impact that using our materials can have on down-stream emissions. Take recycled steel. This is an example of the environmental benefits that switching to recycled materials can bring. The use of recycled steel from an electric arc furnace (EAF) has a significantly lower embodied carbon footprint than steel produced from iron ore via the more conventional, and carbon intensive, blast furnace (BF) or direct reduced iron (DRI) route.

An independent study carried out by the Carbon Trust for EMR indicates that the collection and production of recycled steel, for supply to an electric arc furnace, emits roughly 25-26kgCO2e per tonne – significantly lower than the alternative of sponge iron derived from iron ore which emits roughly 2,005kgCO2e.

Optimization of the EAF production route is going to be one major area in which the wider steel industry will seek to decarbonize in line with the targets set out in the Paris Agreement – and it’s something that EMR USA is championing.

We care for our communities – right across the USA

Here in America, EMR USA has more than 50 operating sites employing in excess of 1,500 people in good quality, green jobs – with many more roles also existing in the supply chains directly related to our business activities. As a sustainable business, we’re positively integrated into the communities we serve. Our work brings economic benefits in the form of meaningful, sustainable employment, education, and investment.

Almost every EMR site in the US was acquired because of its unique local heritage, in addition to its approach and ethos regarding sustainability and ethical recycling. In fact, many of the businesses now trading under the EMR USA banner have been key fixtures within their local communities for generations and employ team members with many decades of expertise in recycling.

To help instill sustainability as a way of life, we’re busy teaching young people about recycling to help future generations build on our sustainable goals and we’re supporting local environmental projects to help protect our planet.

When you break it down, there are many reasons why everyone at EMR USA cares about sustainability: it makes sense to our people; it makes sense to the planet, and it makes sense to our prosperity.