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Commodities: Steel

Stewardship is a principle that calls on all those involved in the product lifecycle to share responsibility for maximising the value and minimising any negative impacts across commercial, social and environmental attributes that result from the production, use and disposal of the product. Stewardship needs to be an integrated program of actions aimed at ensuring that all materials, processes, goods and services are managed throughout the life cycle in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.

Once the stewardship concept is understood, it can still be a difficult thing to achieve - as it requires a new perspective and new relationships to be formed between all the sectors in the life cycle.
A Steel Stewardship program requires involvement from all the sectors in the entire life cycle - from the mining of iron ore, coal and manganese through the steel manufacture, steel processing, steel product use (including design and construction), steel product re-use, and finally the steel recycling sector as steel is the most recycled material by weight in the world.

Each of us in the steel life cycle are facing increasing demands and expectations from the marketplace, regulators, stakeholders, communities and consumers to provide evidence and understanding of sustainable performance everywhere in the life cycle and to show evidence of continuous improvement, not only in the area of "our responsibility", but in all the other sectors of the life cycle which are the areas of "our concern". By working together, we believe we can meet (and possibly exceed) those demands and expectations.

We want to take a fresh approach to steel stewardship and are building on both a stewardship principle that is being applied to other commodities and a vast amount of "leading practice" in each of our sectors, that we can add value to; by bringing it together under a "Steel Stewardship" umbrella.
The Australian Steel Stewardship Forum was initiated as a forum concept (initially as a virtual forum) in June 2007 by:

  1. Mick Roche BHP- Billiton the creator of the Green Lead program when he was at BHP Billiton's Cannington Mine and currently manages Product Stewardship programs across BHP Billiton a widely diversified resources company. He has been involved with developing stewardship programs in a number of commodities. He also chairs the World Nuclear Association's Uranium Stewardship Working Group.

  2. Joe Herbertson is a Principal of Crucible, a sustainability consultancy working with the Australian steel industry on life cycle performance.

  3. Phillip is Director of Ecofutures and is the Secretariat for Green Lead - the now global lead stewardship program involving the lead battery life cycle. He was involved in advising the Australia Infrastructure Council on developing their Sustainability Action Plan.

All three  were all involved in 2006 in the writing of the Australian Government (through Department of Industry Tourism and Resources) published handbook on Stewardship, as was Peter Glazebrook from Rio Tinto. Mick and  Peter,   were  also involved in the APEC workshop in February 2007 on stewardship/life cycle partnerships that was held in conjunction with the APEC Minister's Responsible for Mining (MRM3). The MRM3 Joint Ministerial Statement included:

Sustainable Development - Implementation
Recognising the importance of APEC producer and consumer economies taking responsibility over the life cycle of minerals resources utilisation, and the benefits of capacity building initiatives between APEC economies, we noted that:

    • Life cycle partnerships involves participants working together to ensure that mining materials and products are produced, consumed and disposed in a responsible manner.

    • There is a distinction between those parts of the life cycle where the mining industry has a direct role, and those parts where there is a shared concern.

    • A life cycle approach can assist economies in identifying capacity building priorities. Capacity building can occur on many levels: institutional systems such as regulatory approaches, operational improvements relating to mine sites, including through transfer of technology and services, and community development and engagement

Among the 10 Mining Policy Principles that APEC Ministers agreed to were:

viii - In partnership with all life cycle participants, ensure that materials and products made from minerals and metals are produced, consumed, recycled or disposed of in a responsible manner.
ix - Encourage all participants in the life cycle of a material or product to take direct responsibility for their area of action, and a shared concern over other stages of the life cycle.

The APEC economies account for over 60% of world mine production of iron ore, manganese and coal, steel production and consumption and recycling. It is a belief that a steel stewardship program would make positive contribution to implementing sustainable development to the steel life cycle, especially in the APEC economies. It was agreed as an outcome of a capacity-building workshop on Stewardship – Life Cycle Partnerships held in Beijing in November 2007 that Australia would develop steel stewardship as a model stewardship initiative that could be shared with other APEC economies.
A meeting of interested parties was convened on in Melbourne on 13th March 2008, where it was decided to pursue the development of a more formal forum with Terms of Reference, with potential linkages to a similar forum be developed in the UK. The attendees at this inaugural meeting are provided in Attachment 1.


Steel Stewardship Forum (SSF) Website launch.pdf


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