Companies that care
Sustainability is on the rise — especially the demand for it. More than ever, companies are asked to show rather than tell, providing evidence of sustainable actions and a reduced carbon footprint. Regulatory standards are also increasing, often requiring businesses to disclose metrics such as emissions.
According to the Global Sustainability Study 2021, 85% of respondents indicated that they shifted their purchasing behavior toward greater sustainability in the past five years, with more than one-third willing to pay more for environmentally friendly options. This shift to “greener” products even rose during the pandemic.
Although there’s room in most sectors for leaner manufacturing (with extra credit to those companies that buy and make in America), the fastener industry has advantages. Stainless steel is one of the most used materials in manufacturing fasteners with a strong attribute: it is nearly 100% recyclable.
Stainless steel also has an attractive scrap value because of elements, such as nickel and or alloys, often included in its composition. And given its high resistance to corrosion, a well-chosen and properly installed fastener can last decades. In fact, studies show that the total cost of stainless steel can be 30 to 40% lower than other materials when factoring in repair and replacement costs.
However, there is one caveat. To make steel, iron has to be mined, a process that typically results in the deposition of waste materials that are far from environmentally friendly. This means it’s extremely important to buy stainless-steel fasteners from companies that showcase strong environmental ethics.
For example, several years ago global fastening solutions provider Penn Engineering switched to lead-free materials for the manufacture of its entire cataloged product line of steel fasteners. Fastener manufacturer, BUMAX, currently sources about 80% of its stainless steel from recycled raw materials. And full-service distributor, General Fasteners Company, is committed to a sustainable supply base and is a member of CDP (formerly, the Carbon Disclosure Project).
CDP is a not-for-profit that provides a global disclosure system for companies and regions to manage their environmental impacts. It currently holds the largest global collection of self-reported climate change, water, and forest-risk data, with the goal of driving companies to more sustainable conduct.
Of course, stainless steel is not the only material for fasteners. There are plastics, aluminum, various alloys, and chemical fasteners. Fortunately, there are now several successful options for better sustainability, specific to adhesives and sealants (read more in the article on page 150).
The key, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, is to do your due diligence, work collaboratively with external stakeholders, and focus on the long-term results. (Visit tinyurl.com/ EcoEPA for more tips). Thanks for doing your part and enjoy the read!