Recognition that the concept of a circular economy is fundamental to optimising sustainability of materials has again brought the simplicity, robustness, durability and inherent recyclability of metal structures and components to the forefront of sustainable design. Hot dip galvanized steel perfectly illustrates this:
- Hot dip galvanizing of steel products after fabrication delivers the highest levels of corrosion protection – the steel structure or component will often achieve its design life with no maintenance.
- The galvanized coating can follow the steel structure through multiple cycles of reuse.
- A galvanized coating is inherently climate resilient as its protective ability is largely unaffected by changes in temperature and other climatic factors.
- Galvanized coatings are bonded to the steel, which allows the steel product to be reused along with the original coating without need for recoating (just think of those scaffolding poles that are repeatedly assembled and disassembled around our buildings).
- Galvanized steel components that have reached the end of their design life, or are uninstalled for any other reason, can be re-galvanized and returned to the original use.
- If the reuse cycles come to an end, both steel and zinc are recycled together in the well-established steel recycling processes – with the zinc being returned, without loss of properties, to zinc production plants and eventually back into the galvanizing process.
If a material system was specially designed for the circular economy, hot dip galvanizing would be an excellent example. But, it is here today and has been following these principles for decades.