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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Steel Stewardship: A Responsible and Sustainable Framework

Marla Fuchs

Steel Stewardship: A Responsible and Sustainable Framework

As development is directly linked with prosperity and as further industrialization takes place around the world, there is an increasing need for construction materials. Steel, a versatile building material, is in great demand. The supply chain for steel consists of a complicated web of international contributors, which have a significant effect on the environment and local society. Consequently there is now a strong desire from within the construction industry to track the provenance of steel. It has been found that a multitude of environmental and human considerations are often omitted at several stages of the steel supply chain.

The aim of this research is to investigate the many impacts of steel production from cradle to gate, and subsequently determine how to instigate responsible sourcing within the industry. This investigation was originally initiated by the steel industry itself, and then pursued in cooperation with The Eden Project as an unbiased third party. Three separate methods of research were employed. A critical analysis of similar schemes was conducted to provide a perspective on which practices can be adopted and avoided. Next, interviews from all members of the steel supply chain were conducted to gain an appreciation of stakeholder engagement. Lastly a case study of the St. Austell regeneration project in Cornwall was used to trace steel used in construction, to test the theoretical concepts generated from the first two methods. This combined analysis will then shape a framework for the sustainable stewardship of steel throughout the entire process, from the exploration of potential mining sites through the completion of construction in the United Kingdom.

While future mining is unavoidable, the mitigation and even the elimination of the negative impact it has on the environment and people throughout the process are possible. Similarly, reforming the environmental and societal impacts that all parts of the steel supply chain have is realistically achievable. The Eden Project, working with stakeholder groups to realize the goals set out in this framework, will use the results of this dissertation to carry on this work.


Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.