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“A Catalyst for Change”: Nucor Is All in on Sustainability

Nucor is one of the cleanest steel companies in the world. Recently, the producer of low embodied carbon steel and steel products committed to further reducing emissions and increasing its global sustainability efforts by joining the United Nations’ 24/7 Carbon-free Energy Compact.

But that’s just the latest in a long list of sustainability initiatives from the company.

Lofty goals: Nucor has committed to a 35% reduction of its steel-mill greenhouse-gas intensity by 2030—no easy feat in the sector, said Nucor Executive Vice President of Business Services and General Counsel Greg Murphy.

  • “The levers that companies in this industry can pull depend on the geographic location you’re in, your access to materials and even the geology of the region in which you operate,” Murphy said. “We’re making steel out of recycled content and the fact that we start out with some of the lowest industry greenhouse-gas emissions levels on the planet gives us an advantage.”
  • Much of this advantage comes from the company’s use of electric arc furnaces to recycle scrap metal into new steel products, a process Nucor pioneered in the U.S.
  • However, EAFs consume large amounts of electricity, making cleaner energy sources an important part of the company’s efforts to reduce emissions. Approximately 40% of the electricity Nucor uses now comes from clean or renewable sources, according to Murphy.

Green upgrades: Nucor is looking at all corners of its operations for ways to reduce and improve.

  • The company is building a new rebar “micromill” (its third in the past five years) to make rebar for infrastructure and construction projects. Micromills eliminate the need for reheat furnaces, further reducing Nucor’s use of natural gas.
  • Nucor is also considering replacing charge and injection carbon—two solid-carbon sources used in its furnaces—“with recycled and wood components, which would significantly reduce emissions,” Murphy said.

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