ResponsibleSteell members approved the final draft of what the nonprofit calls the industry’s first multistakeholder standard and certification initiative during a meeting hosted by Luxembourg-based global steel company ArcelorMittal June 17-18 in London.
Feedback on the ResponsibleSteel standard gathered from “extensive” public consultation was a point of focus at the meeting. In addition, members had the opportunity to review the final draft of the certification before the ratification process and implementation in the market at the end of 2019.
ArcelorMittal was a founding member and has played a leading role in developing the initiative since it was first established in 2015. The initiative aims to set a single, global standard for the entire “mine-to-metal” steel value chain.
Efforts to accelerate the creation of the standard, including public consultation periods, have increased over the past year, leading to the recent approval of the draft version, the steelmaker says in a news release. The standard will enable steel producers to prove their production processes and products meet rigorously defined standards across a broad range of social, environmental and ethical criteria. It also will serve to improve responsible sourcing of raw materials used in steelmaking and reduce supply-chain risk.
“I am encouraged both by the progress we have made in developing the ResponsibleSteel standard and the broad-based interest in the scheme,” says Alan Knight, head of sustainable development at ArcelorMittal and co-chair of ResponsibleSteel.
ResponsibleSteel has 19 members and 18 associate members, including steel producers Aperam, Luxembourg; BlueScope Steel, Australia; and Voestalpine, Austria, as well as financial institutions; automotive producers, including BMW; nongovernmental organizations (NGOs); and industry associations, including IndustriALL, International Tin Association and International Zinc Association.
“For a scheme like this to truly gain market acceptance we need involvement, collaboration and input from multiple stakeholder groups,” Knight says. “Steel industry participants clearly have an important role to play in its development, but an accreditation scheme created solely by the steel industry and for the steel industry would lack credibility. The multistakeholder aspect is critical, so the support and membership sign up we have received from mining majors, financial institutions, steel consuming customers and NGOs brings that credibility.”
ArcelorMittal has undertaken assessment against version three of the standard across nearly all its European flat products production site and sites in the United States and Brazil with “positive results.” The company says it is currently working on a site assessment and verification plan, starting in Europe, in anticipation of the market launch of the standard later this year.
“It has also been integral in ensuring the development of the standard is sufficiently stringent,” Knight says. “We received more than 600 responses to the public consultation carried out on version three of the standard. With this input carried into version four, I am confident the scheme will be market ready later this year and will achieve its objective of providing the reassurance steel customers and industry stakeholders need on industry sustainability standards.”