Our Commitment to the Environment
At Olympic Steel, we respect the environment and take very seriously our role as stewards of the planet’s resources. We are committed to following practices that will have a positive impact on the communities in which we operate – for the benefit of current and future generations of employees, customers and shareholders we serve.
Our Process & Impact
Olympic Steel is a metals service center. We warehouse, process, and distribute metal products; however, we are not a metals producer. As such, we don’t emit the same pollutants into the water or the air that occur during the metal manufacturing process. Instead, we’re part of the supply chain that makes products out of metal.
We buy metal products in bulk from metal producers (steel mills). Then, our role as a metals service center is to break that bulk supply into smaller quantities to sell to our customers. We also support original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and other customers by cutting, shaping, and otherwise processing carbon steel, stainless steel and aluminum.
While we don’t make metals, we do recycle scrap material that mills re-use in their processes to make raw material.
The work we do to process metals for our customers does not distribute pollutants into the water supply, nor do we do any mining or extract any materials from the ground. While we believe our footprint is small, we’re still taking steps to further reduce our overall environmental impact.
Learn more about the impact of our role in the manufacturing supply chain below.
Our Environmental Policy
Olympic Steel’s Environmental Policy outlines our commitment to protecting the environment, complying with all applicable environmental regulations, and using resources responsibly. The full policy is available here.
By the numbers:
Metal recycling: Olympic Steel is a major recycler of scrap metal in the U.S. In 2019, we recycled over 71,000 tons of scrap metal. Our raw material is 100% recyclable, and steel is the most recycled material by weight.
Electricity: Olympic Steel’s facilities used more than 38,000 MWh of electricity in 2019. We are committed to ongoing evaluation and improvement in our energy efficiency, including the use of lower-energy, LED lighting in 22 of our facilities, covering over 2.3 million square feet. This high-efficiency lighting has saved more than 5,000 MWh of electricity usage annually. We are in the process of upgrading lighting at the remaining facilities, and as a result, we expect our energy savings will continue to grow.
In addition, our office building in Winder, Georgia, is certified to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, the most widely used green building rating system in the world.
Renewable Energy: Our steel service center facility in Bedford Heights, Ohio, operates a wind tower that returns renewable energy to the local electrical grid. In addition, many of our facilities have implemented efficient HVAC/air systems to reduce energy use for heating and cooling. We also look to source our electric requirements using suppliers that offer renewable content. We estimate that more than 12% of our electricity supply is derived from renewable content, including hydro and wind power.
Natural Gas: More than 95% of Olympic Steel facilities use natural gas for heating needs. In 2019, Olympic facilities used approximately 1.6 million thermal units of natural gas, primarily during the winter months. We plan to install a new high-efficiency gas boiler at our Corporate Office in Ohio, which will reduce our overall natural gas consumption starting in 2020. In addition, we recently installed a new high-efficiency gas generator at our Corporate Office, which will allow us to reduce our use of grid power during high-usage days (typically occurring in the hot summer months).
Water Usage: Olympic Steel recognizes that water is a shared and finite resource. Thus, we are committed to preserving this natural resource. On a consolidated basis, Olympic Steel used approximately 5.3 million gallons of water in 2019. To help mitigate this usage, we have installed water-saving equipment in any newly remodeled facilities, including using low-flow toilets and motion-detecting sinks.
To further reduce our water usage, we have significantly reduced our use of disposable water bottles by installing water filtration systems and providing reusable water bottles for employees.
Our goal is to consistently show year-over-year reductions in usage starting in 2020.
Forestry: Across our operations, we seek a reduction of deforestation, as we see it being a significant factor of climate change. While many of our products ship to our customers on wooden pallets, we have taken measures to reduce our reliance on use of wood products. We have instituted pallet return programs for customers in order to maximize the life of a wooden pallet. And, although we incur more upfront costs, we utilize reusable, non-wooden materials to ship products to our customers, where possible. This includes using our own fabricated steel racking.
We also continue to educate our employees on ways to reduce paper use and have paper recycling programs in place in the majority of Olympic Steel facilities.
We see these efforts as essential to reducing the demand for lumber, which will ultimately lead to a reduction in deforestation.
Additionally, Olympic Steel does not buy, sell, or use any conflict minerals. You can view our Conflict Minerals report here.