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Stainless steel products are designed for a long life – typically several decades. Indeed, this is often the reason for selecting stainless steel in the first place.
However, there will come a time when the product has reached the end of its useful life: by fashion change (the product still functions well but the design is out-dated e.g. shops, restaurants and other buildings); by technological redundancy (e.g. the product is replaced by a more efficient technology); by product failure (e.g. some part of the equipment fails because of eventual corrosion).
In many of these cases, the stainless steel has suffered little degradation and still contains the high value of the initial alloying elements such as chromium, nickel and molybdenum. This makes it a valuable source of those constituents to the stainless steel producer and a high proportion of material going into the melting furnace is usually recycled. Therefore there are well established systems to collect and recycle stainless steel. This includes trimmings and other scrap which arise during manufacturing of stainless steel products.
This ready recyclability is one of the contributions which stainless steel makes to sustainable development.
More information on recycling can be found on the ISSF Website.