The EU could go from exporter to importer of scrap in as little as five years as steelmakers globally convert to electric arc furnaces (EAFs), and competition for scrap material will intensify.
The European Union has exported about 18 million tons of scrap annually recently. European steel producers have tried to impose a complete ban on this raw material export, but their efforts have only been crowned with partial success.
At the same time, as noted at a recent meeting of the International Association of Rebar Producers and Exporters (IREPAS), they expect that within five years, all scrap produced in the EU will be used by domestic steelmakers.
These expectations reflect the increasing shift in steel production to electric arc furnaces and, therefore, more demand for scrap in the European market.
At the same time, high-quality scrap without impurities is not available in large quantities.
In addition, an increasing number of countries are imposing restrictions or bans on exporting scrap to ensure the availability of raw materials in their domestic markets, as EAF steelmaking has become a leading technology.
In particular, China will expand its EAF steelmaking capabilities. Therefore, the global scrap shortage will continue to rise, and accordingly, it may mean the EU, which is still a net scrap exporter, can quickly become a scrap importer.
EU steelmakers are worried about the future availability of scrap. However, Mario Arvedi Caldonazzo, President of the Arvedi Group and Vice President of EUROFER said that this raw material has become a strategic factor for the future of European steelmakers.
He pointed out that the demand for scrap from European steel manufacturers is increasing to reduce carbon emissions further, and Europe cannot impose a ban on exports like other countries. However, it must ensure that ferrous scrap is defined as a critical raw material and not just waste.
MEPs voted in position’s favour of the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI), which was adopted in December 2022 and will become the basis for negotiations with EU governments regarding the final adoption of new waste transport rules.
The European Parliament approved the Waste Shipment Regulation at the beginning of 2023 that waste safe for recycling (particularly ferrous and non-ferrous metal scrap) will only be allowed to be exported to countries outside the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) if those countries apply for approval and demonstrate a capacity for environmental waste management. In addition, the European Commission will carefully monitor the export of waste to OECD member states.