CORDIS - EU research results

The steel industry, circularity and the stock-flow-service nexus

Project description

Demand-side strategies to boost circularity in the steel industry

Steel is one of the most recycled materials but only one third of the global demand is met through scrap. Since steel has a potentially endless life cycle, its industry can lead the way in the circular economy. The EU-funded CircNexSt project will use the stock-flow-service (SFS) nexus to measure the circularity of an international steel company’s products from extraction to service. The SFS framework explicitly highlights the interactions between energy and material flows, material stocks, and services. Dynamic material flow and stock modelling will be employed to measure the resource consumption and accumulation required to offer services. CircNexSt will result in a set of resource efficiency and circularity indicators to assess the environmental performance of material goods and products.


Steel is the world’s most recycled metal, yet only 21% of the global demand is met through scrap, which highlights the gap between the present reality and the ideals embedded in the concept of the circular economy. The latter is designed to increase material recoverability and product optimisation throughout the entire life cycle, resulting in less carbon emissions, waste and resource dependency. Within the steel industry, leading companies and professional bodies have sought to promote and embody the circular economy to advance sector sustainability.

This project will use the Stock-Flow-Service (SFS) Nexus to quantify the circularity of an international steel company’s products from extraction to service. The SFS nexus is a conceptual framework that explicitly highlights the interactions, including trade-offs, between energy and material flows (e.g. coal, iron ore), material stocks (e.g. buildings, vehicles) and service provision (e.g. shelter, mobility). By applying this nexus, one can assess the overall environmental performance of a light weighting strategy by juxtaposing reduced fuel consumption and carbon emissions with the increased incorporation of complex material composites. The latter make energy savings possible but are difficult to re-use and recycle, thus reducing the circularity of the process.

The project will use Material Flow Analysis and Dynamic Stock Modelling to quantify resource consumption and accumulation linked to the service provided by steel. A set of resource efficiency and circularity indicators will be developed to evaluate the environmental performance of steel products (and prototypes) under various business strategies, including stock optimisation, green leasing, and product-service systems. The project’s results and recommendations will support the steel company in their corporate sustainability targets and facilitate the accurate prediction and tracking of steel’s residual value and resource efficiency across their product range.


Net EU contribution
€ 224 933,76
CB2 1TN Cambridge
United Kingdom

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East of England East Anglia Cambridgeshire CC
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 224 933,76