Ecuadorian Steel Manufacturer blazing new methods in sustainable technology

Posted on November 20, 2014 • Filed under: Business, Ecuador reported…Lessons can be learned from Adelca, an Ecuadorian steel manufacturer that is trying to blaze a trail for the circular economy in Latin America. Ecuador is still a relatively small player, making up about 1% of the Latin American crude steel market, which is dominated by Brazil at 53% and Mexico at 27% (ranked nine and 13 respectively in the world market). Adelca supplies Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru and Chile with a variety of rolled and stretched steel products. Before 2008, Adelca was importing billets (a narrow, generally square, bar of steel) from China and elsewhere, but after analysing the economic and environmental benefits, the company decided to invest in an electric arc furnace (EAF) and start recycling metal scrap in order to make products for the construction sector.

The first part of Adelca’s sustainable technology solution was to install the EAF, thus allowing it to make its own steel billets from recycled scrap steel. According to Isabel Meza, head of integrated management at Adelca, by importing fewer billets, they are saving $12m (£7.6m) on the 20,000 tonnes of steel they produce every month. Apart from using fewer mineral resources, each tonne of recycled steel uses 40% less water, 75% less energy and generates 1.28 tonnes less solid waste than steel from raw materials. There is also an 86% reduction in air emissions and a 76% reduction in water pollution.


The second part of Adelca’s sustainable technology solution was to help to stimulate and organise the metals recycling sector in Ecuador, since it does not have enough supply of scrap metal to meet its own steel production demand. Today, Adelca’s Recyclers Network generates about 4,000 jobs (direct and indirect), with income exceeding $1m (£637,000) a month. Also, the steelworks, scrap iron preparation process, transportation system and complementary services generate more than 1,500 direct jobs for 50 small companies. Although Adelca still imports $80m (£51m) a year in raw materials, it estimates it contributes $120m (£76.5m) a year to the national economy just from the avoided imports. Read Article

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