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  • Responsible Raw Materials

Andrew Buchanan - A Circular Economy in the Iron and Steel Industry and Beyond

Updated: May 12, 2021

1Materials Processing Institute, Eston Road, Middlesbrough, TS6 6US | UK,

For too long, the “take-make-dispose”, linear economy model has been adopted globally. In this system raw materials are extracted from the Earth’s reserves, transformed into a useful product, put into service, and then retired as waste, usually to landfill and certainly not recycled [1]. The Materials Processing Institute is working with a wide range of collaborative partners to shift from this linear economy to a circular economy in which waste is eliminated thereby ensuring that all materials are recycled back into the supply chain [1].

The Institute is a not-for-profit research and innovation centre with a 75-year track record in developing new materials, processes, and technologies. The Institute is a globally recognised centre for the innovation, development, and commercialisation of technology for advanced materials, industrial decarbonisation, digitalisation, and the circular economy [2].

The Circular Economy Group are working from cradle-to-cradle to develop new materials, technologies, industrial processes, and establish new markets to support the UK’s “Build Back Better” plan for growth.

Specifically, in the iron and steel industry, the Institute is involved in a number of projects such as the valorisation of Basic Oxygen Steelmaking slag through the addition of waste glass, the regeneration of local brownfield sites, and the quantification and reduction of waste process heat.

The Institute will soon establish a Circular Economy Technology Centre, a pilot-scale facility incorporating mechanical separation, and pyrometallurgical and hydrometallurgical material recovery techniques. The aim of the centre is to act as a conduit for Industry and Academia to trial pilot-scale research to support future development up the Technology Readiness Level scale.

In conclusion, the Institute are seeking collaborative partnerships across the UK industrial supply chains with the overall aim of supporting a range of sectors in the development of Circular Economy strategies.


[1] Government of the Netherlands, “From a linear to a circular economy “, accessed 7th May 2021

[2] The Materials Processing Institute, “Institute”,, accessed 7th May 2021



Andrew Buchanan manages of the Circular Economy Group at the Materials Processing Institute, where he leads a team of scientists and researchers developing innovations that maximise resource efficiency through manufacturing and process optimisation.

The group focuses on extracting value from waste, identifying technologies and recovering materials that will reduce resource consumption while also reducing waste generation. It works collaboratively to develop, pilot, and commercialise technologies and processes that support the development of the circular economy.

Andrew holds a BSc in Geology and Applied Geology an MSc in Environmental Technology and has a particular interest in the recovery of critical materials from waste, in low carbon technology and carbon capture utilisation and storage. He is a resource efficiency specialist identifying opportunities to design waste and pollution out of the industrial process.

His career has spanned several industrial and business sectors from mining and petrochemicals through to renewable energy regeneration. Positions held include leading a disruptive recycling technology start-up, providing environmental consulting for a global engineering business, and developing circular economy and energy efficiency strategies for the Tees Valley business community and Combined Authority.

Andrew is an accomplished speaker and is regularly called upon to present scientific and technical papers in environmental, waste and resource efficiency topics.


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