Building a more sustainable country is Aceros AZA’s goal. Founded in 1953, Aceros AZA is a leading company in the steel industry, recognized for its excellence in the production and marketing of a wide range of high quality products such as steel bars, beams, plates, pipes and other structural elements. They have an installed capacity to produce 520,000 tons of steel per year from about 600,000 tons of salvaged ferrous scrap in Chile.
Steel is a material widely used in various industries and its production has a significant impact on the environment linked to the extraction and processing of iron ore. Steel recycling is essential to reduce the demand for natural resources, reduce carbon emissions, save energy, reduce waste and foster a more sustainable economy.
In an interview with Daniela Gonzalez, Head of Sustainability at Aceros AZA, she tells us about the company's strategy and how the company has integrated the circular economy in order to develop a product that they call Green Steel and that is essential for the development of infrastructure works in the country.
Could you tell us about AZA's business strategy and commitment to sustainability?
The circular economy and care for the environment are at the heart of our business, which is why we’ve made great efforts that today allow us to have one of the lowest carbon footprints in the sector, about nine times less than the average of the steel industry worldwide. In addition, Aceros AZA has a long track record distinguished by good practices in sustainability, occupational safety and circular economy, along with promoting one of the largest networks of grassroots recyclers in the country, who are a fundamental part of our business. Our sustainability strategy revolves around three core vectors: business excellence; regenerative circular economy and net zero; and people and sustainable communities. In each vector, we’ve defined priority issues that need to be addressed, with their corresponding implementation plan, and KPIs that allow us to monitor our progress.
What is AZA's plan to address future environmental and social challenges and how is it preparing to meet its long-term sustainability goals?
We’ve updated our sustainable strategy in alignment with the environmental and social challenges of the future of the industry and the world, with the aim of achieving our goal: "Green Steel: to build a more sustainable Chile together". To align ourselves with the international goal of limiting global warming by 1.5°C, we committed to reduce our Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 50% by 2030 (a goal we met ten years early) and to reach Net Zero by 2050. To achieve this, we drew up a solid roadmap that aims, among other things, to reduce our energy consumption, improve the efficiency of our processes, incorporate renewable energies and promote electric mobility. Interestingly, this roadmap was validated in April 2022 by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi), making us the first steel company in Chile and the second in Latin America to assume this responsibility. Another of our challenges associated with the social sphere is to promote the purchase of scrap from grassroots recyclers. This commitment aims for 20% of the scrap purchased to come from this supplier profile by 2025.
What is AZA's strategy to promote the circular economy?
Our company prides itself on having a solid strategy based on a circular economy model. By producing steel from recycled scrap, we significantly reduce our dependence on natural resources, minimizing the impact related to the extraction of raw materials. Through an efficient and advanced recycling process, we recover and reuse valuable materials, closing the life cycle of steel products and preventing them from becoming waste. This enables us to reduce carbon, energy and water emissions, and produce less waste. Our circular economy strategy not only benefits the environment, but also positions us as a leader in sustainability and gives us a competitive advantage by offering products with one of the lowest carbon footprints in the industry worldwide.
In addition, we are currently the largest recycler of ferrous scrap in the country, a position we’ve achieved thanks to a recycling network of more than 10,000 suppliers, including SMEs and companies in the construction, mining and industrial sectors that generate scrap. This network is 90% composed of grassroots recyclers, a profile that corresponds mainly to enterprising families, whose economic livelihood depends exclusively on the sale of scrap metal.
In addition to the above, another of our public commitments is making AZA a circular company and closing our cycle. To this end, we challenged ourselves to recover 100% of our waste by 2025. So, we created our subsidiary EcoAZA, established at the end of 2020, with the aim of processing our main waste, steel slag, and thus generating two types of eco-arid® (eco-aggregate), which can be used in different applications as a replacement for traditional aggregate, reducing dependence on this natural resource on the one hand, and recovering waste from the steel process on the other.
Recently, as a result of a visit coordinated by ProHumana, an NGO dedicated to Sustainable Human Development, professionals from various industries visited the Aceros Aza plant. The participants were impressed by its pioneering circular economy approach, which has made the company a leader in the valorization of materials in the country and the region.