Schnitzer earns top sustainability honors

Metal recycling firm supplants wind power company in Corporate Knights ranking.

steel recycling pile
Schnitzer refers to itself as an “old economy” company that is well prepared for a future focused on sustainability.
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Portland, Oregon-based Schnitzer Steel Industries Inc. has been named the most sustainable company in the world by Corporate Knights, a Toronto-based business information and research organization.

Schnitzer says the Corporate Knights 19th annual Global 100 List of the world’s most sustainable corporations, in which it ranked first, was based on an assessment of 6,720 companies, each with more than $1 billion in revenue, based on company performance across a range of sustainability metrics.

“Sustainability is at the core of what we do and how we operate, and it has been since our founding in 1906,” says Tamara Lundgren, board chair and CEO of the metal recycling firm, which also operates a scrap-fed electric arc furnace (EAF) steel mill.

“Our work and our purpose have never been more relevant than they are today,” she adds. “We are honored to be recognized by Corporate Knights for our contributions to the sustainable economy.”

The Global 100 top ranking reflects “the key role of Schnitzer’s operations in reducing the environmental footprint of industrial manufacturing operations, such as global steelmaking and copper smelting, by supplying customers with recycled metals to use as the primary input in their production processes,” the company says.

Schnitzer bumped last year’s top-ranking company, Vestas Wind Systems of Denmark, down to No. 2 on the newly announced 2023 list.

A central driver of Schnitzer’s move from number 15 on Corporate Knights’ ranking in 2022 to the No. 1 position in 2023 includes revenue tied to handling approximately 4.5 million tons of recycled ferrous metals, 700 million pounds of recycled nonferrous metals, and 465,000 short tons of finished steel products made from recycled ferrous metals, according to the firm.

In 2022, Schnitzer also introduced GRN Steel, which it calls a line of net-zero-carbon-emissions finished steel products to provide customers with sustainable steel solutions as they build tomorrow’s essential infrastructure.

“The use of recycled metals is recognized as an important strategic solution for companies, industries, and governments focused on carbon reduction,” Lundgren says. “It is a differentiator for metal producers and fabricators and a critical part of every community’s commitment to supporting a circular economy and decreasing material going to landfills.”

Toby Heaps, CEO, Corporate Knights, says, “We are rapidly moving toward a future where leading sustainability performers like Schnitzer Steel will drive more viable returns than their global corporate peers. This year’s index included continued growth in the overall portion of corporate revenues and investments aligned with the sustainable economy.”

A future of sustainability fits in well with Schnitzer Steel Industries’ past, Lundgren adds. “As a 117-year-old company with roots in the ‘old economy,’ to be recognized as the leading force in sustainability is a great example of how sustainability principles can be successfully applied to industrial companies.”

In its 2022 fiscal year, Schnitzer says it reduced Scopes 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions from recycling operations by 24 percent compared with the company’s 2019 baseline and maintained 100-percent-net-carbon-free electricity at its operations for the second consecutive year.

“We continue to take deliberate steps to further integrate sustainability into the fabric of our operations,” says Judodine Nichols, Schnitzer chief sustainability officer. “Our achievements in fiscal 2022 were made possible due to continuous improvement in employee engagement and management practices and significant capital investment in industry-leading emissions control technologies.”

Schnitzer Steel Industries Inc. operates recycling facilities located in 25 states, Puerto Rico and western Canada; operates more than 50 stores that sell used auto parts from salvaged vehicles; and produces steel rebar, wire rod and other products.

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