Sustainable business at Corus
Corus is the UK’s biggest steel manufacturer. Even so, it still has to compete. In 2004 it launched a programme to make itself more efficient. Part of the program, called ‘Restoring Success’, focuses on recycling steel. The world economy is growing. The demand for steel has increased as more nations such as India and China have grown. Recycling as part of sustainable development has thus become vital. It has become a main concern for Corus.
What is sustainable?
Sustainable development is linked to resources. It means leaving at least as much for the future as we had to start with. This shows respect for the environment. It also shows thought the future. Everyone should try to aim for sustainability. This includes governments, businesses and people.
Steel can be recycled over and over again with no loss of quality. This makes it stand out in terms of sustainability. It is easy to extract steel from waste because of its unique magnetic properties and recycle it from scrap. By recycling steel Corus helps to:
* preserve natural resources
* protect the environment
* meet targets for reducing waste.
Corus is working hard to make the public aware of what can and should be recycled. Steel can be recycled from drink and food cans, lids, paint cans and aerosols. Not everyone knows what can be recycled. For instance, 57% of consumers recycle drinks cans but only 7% recycle aerosols. Corus is working to develop a ‘closed loop’ for steel.
The steel would go from consumers to recycling plants, then into production and back to consumers.
Corus sees that there are two sides to recycling. There are gains, but there can also be extra costs. To keep all of its stakeholders happy, it must balance these. There are effects on :
the planet. Fewer resources are used but energy is needed to recycle
* consumers. They have a smaller carbon footprint but more time is needed to recycle
* employees. More are involved in recycling
*communities. Less waste is stored in landfill but there may be noise from recycling plants.
Gains include lower production costs, governments hitting recycling targets and all of us having a better planet to live on.
Costs and benefits
It is possible to weigh up costs and benefits. A monetary value can be put on them. Businesses want gains to outweigh costs. Corus gains from recycling. Socially. Corus gains a good reputation. There is reduced impact on the environment, lower energy use and less waste. There are also costs. These include the cost of recycling and of collecting and sorting waste steel. Corus has created a number of targets to help measure its success. These are called Key Performance Indicators. They include
Corus’ UK energy use being reduced to less than 1997 levelsan increase in the steel recycling rate to 55%.
Corus works to recycle as much as it can. This helps towards greater sustainability. It shows concern for all its stakeholders. Consumers can also help by recycling as much as they can.
Issues for Discussion:
Introduction to case
2. What is sustainability and whose responsibility is it?
3. Describe three actions that an individual can take to support sustainability and two actions that a business can take?
4. Steel lends itself to recycling. What actions could be taken to increase public awareness of steel recycling?
5. Recommend actions that individuals and businesses can take to enhance the closed loop ‘steel to steel’ recycling process.
6. Recommend ways in which the benefits of steel recycling can be increased compared to the costs of recycling steel.
This solution was written by a subject matter expert. It’s designed to help students like you learn core concepts.
Introduction to the case:
Corus, the UK’s largest steel manufacturer, initiated a program in 2004 called ‘Restoring Success’ to enhance its efficiency and competitiveness. Part of this program focuses on recycling steel, which has become crucial for sustainable development due to the increasing global demand for steel. This case explores Corus’s efforts toward sustainability through steel recycling.
What is sustainability and whose responsibility is it?
Sustainability refers to the responsible use of resources, ensuring that we leave at least as much for future generations as we had initially. It involves environmental respect and long-term planning, and it’s a shared responsibility among governments, businesses, and individuals.
Three actions that an individual can take to support sustainability:
1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle:
Individuals can minimize waste by reducing consumption, reusing items whenever possible, and actively participating in recycling programs.
2. Energy Conservation:
Lowering energy consumption at home, using energy-efficient appliances, and supporting renewable energy sources can reduce an individual’s carbon footprint.
3. Sustainable Transportation:
Opting for public transportation, carpooling, biking, or walking instead of driving alone can reduce emissions and promote sustainable mobility.
Two actions that a business can take to support sustainability:
1. Implement Sustainable Practices:
Businesses can adopt eco-friendly production methods, reduce waste, and minimize their carbon footprint through energy-efficient processes.
2. Supply Chain Sustainability:
Evaluating and improving the sustainability of their supply chains, sourcing materials responsibly, and collaborating with suppliers on eco-friendly initiatives can contribute to sustainability.
Actions to increase public awareness of steel recycling:
1. Educational Campaigns:
Launch public awareness campaigns to inform people about the recyclability of steel, highlighting the environmental benefits.
Provide incentives such as deposit refunds for returning steel products like cans and bottles.
Collaborate with local governments, schools, and environmental organizations to promote steel recycling through workshops, events, and educational programs.
Recommendations to enhance the closed loop ‘steel to steel’ recycling process:
1. Streamlined Collection:
Establish efficient collection and sorting systems for waste steel to ensure a steady supply for recycling.
2. Technological Advancements:
Invest in advanced recycling technologies that improve the quality and efficiency of steel recycling.
3. Consumer Engagement:
Encourage consumers to buy products made from recycled steel, creating demand for recycled steel products and closing the loop.
Ways to increase benefits compared to the costs of recycling steel:
1. Economies of Scale:
Increase the scale of recycling operations to reduce per-unit recycling costs.
2. Efficient Energy Use:
Implement energy-efficient processes in recycling plants to reduce energy costs.
3. Market Development:
Expand markets for recycled steel products by working with industries and governments to promote their use, potentially increasing the value of recycled steel.