Friday 10 July 2015

Sheffield City Council has today been praised by industry leaders after pledging support to the British sustainable steel industry. The Council is one of the first signatories of the Charter for British Sustainable Steel, an initiative that has been set up by trade body UK Steel to promote domestically produced steel that has been manufactured in a safe, responsible and environmentally-friendly way and supports local sourcing and supply chains.

A motion at Full Council to support the initiative received unanimous support. Councillor Leigh Bramall, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Business, Skills and Development, said:

“Stainless-steel was discovered in Sheffield and the city is proud to have a world-wide reputation for being synonymous with the industry. Sheffield is producing more steel products by value than ever before.

British steel is essential to Sheffield’s new role in advanced manufacturing, which demands high levels of precision, quality and reliability.”

As well as supporting British jobs and providing wider knock on benefits for the domestic economy, the commitment from Sheffield City Council will improve health and safety for construction workers in Sheffield. Independent research has shown that additives present in some Chinese steel products can make them more susceptible to cracking unless specific welding techniques are used. Despite repeated official warnings, poor labelling means construction workers are often unable to differentiate between Chinese and British rebar. This means they do not take the necessary precautions and are therefore at risk.

The decision has been praised by industry leaders, who are concerned about the increasing amount of unsustainably produced non-EU imports of carbon steel rebar flooding the market. Rebar is widely used in the construction industry to strengthen concrete.

Unsustainably produced carbon rebar already occupies a third of the market. To level the playing field, the Charter asks organisations to commit to using carbon steel rebar that meets BES 6001, a British sustainability standard.

By signing up to The Charter for British Sustainable Steel, which is voluntary, Sheffield City Council is supporting an industry with sales totalling around £9.5bn in 2013 and which contributed £2.4bn to the UK’s balance of trade. The British steel industry employs approximately 20,000 people and additionally supports countless domestic businesses and employees in the supply chain, with the associated knock on benefits for the national economy generated by tax revenues.

The Charter has been backed by the Government and a range of other high profile organisations have already signed up, including Balfour Beatty, Cardiff City Council and Manchester City Council.

Gareth Stace, Director of UK Steel, commented: “British-made steel is high quality and sustainably produced.

“Sheffield taxpayers’ money should be being spent in a way that ensures quality and supports UK industries.

“Signing our Charter will help safeguard the future of the British steel industry and we should be proud to support the use of British sustainable steel.”