The Australasian Certification Authority for Reinforcing and Structural Steels (ACRS), the leading independent steel certification authority for Australia and New Zealand, has today announced the Australasian launch of a certification scheme that will improve buyers’ ability to source high quality, ethically and sustainably produced steel for construction across Australasia.
The Scheme will ensure that the public knows that steel installed in their homes, high-rise commercial and residential buildings and across Australasian infrastructure meets the highest global standards.
ACRS has partnered with independent, not-for-profit certification body, CARES, to introduce the Sustainable Constructional Steels Certification Scheme into the Australasian markets – to be known as the SCS Scheme.
The Scheme ensures that construction steel entering Australia and New Zealand from anywhere in the world meets the highest global environmental, social and ethical standards, using independent certification of ESG criteria and performance indicators.
Despite Australia and New Zealand importing significant volumes of steel to meet expanding building and infrastructure needs, many existing sustainability schemes fail to provide adequate, independent verification of the supplier’s claims regarding the sustainability of the materials supplied to consumers.
There is rapidly increasing demand for a premium, independent verification scheme in the area of steel sustainability, that provides surety there is no producer bias, misrepresentation or dilution of the expected certification process.
Australians and New Zealanders will now be able to determine with confidence the sustainability performance of the steel procured.
Australian and international steel producers are working hard to reduce their emissions – around 7 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions  are generated by the industry.
The SCS Scheme will help steel producers and processors measure, monitor and improve the sustainability performance of their products and will strengthen industry efforts already underway to combat greenhouse gas emissions.
As construction will play a major role in post-pandemic economic recovery across Australia and New Zealand, the Scheme will help building designers, specifiers and customers make informed decisions about the materials they are buying.
CEO of ACRS, Philip Sanders, said it is an important development not just for the Australasian steel industry but for the general public.
“We all look at vehicle emissions and ethically produced clothing but how about the steel that holds up our infrastructure and buildings? Global demand for sustainable steel is growing in line with increasing public and government demand. Many Australian and New Zealand government projects are demanding it.”
CEO of CARES, Lee Brankley, said the launch of the Scheme represents a “real turning point” for the industry.
“Recent events have confirmed, more than ever, how important it is to build confidence in the provenance of safety-critical products, like steel, entering the construction supply chain,” Mr Brankley said.
Based out of the UK, CARES has grown its reach globally as more manufacturers and clients have sought to lock in the confidence that comes from verified, independent, third-party scrutiny.
“Whether it is constructors, their consultants or consumers, all our stakeholders are entitled to know the full story behind the products they are choosing to rely on for a secure, sustainable future.”
Provides a clear public benefit
The Scheme’s supplier mapping evaluation and management systems requirements provide insights into labour conditions and human rights risks in sourcing and production.
The Scheme aligns to the UN convened Sustainable Development Goals – ‘The Global Goals’ – and measures and monitors a comprehensive range of criteria through the global supply chain, including ethical business practices; modern slavery, human rights and labour conditions; environmental impacts (including circular economy and climate change); fair supplier treatment and the socioeconomic impacts of the steel value chain.
Raw material and transport data combined with independently verified production and life cycle emissions data supports the development of the products’ carbon footprint and Environmental Product Declarations – prerequisites of the scheme.
This enables accurate data, for example, the Global Warming Potential, per tonne of product, to be easily accessed by designers and specifiers. On product bar marking and digital product labelling allow 100 per cent traceability on all verified products from manufacture to site.
Supporting international trade and commerce
The Scheme already certifies over 40 producers and suppliers in 13 countries. Products certified under the Scheme are approved inputs for a range of international building and infrastructure rating systems. It is currently seeking recognition from the Green Building Council of Australia and is compatible with the recently released Responsible Steel Standard.
The UK’s Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) recognises the Scheme as a ‘responsible sourcing certification scheme’; with the US LEED building rating system and the Hong Kong CIC scheme also recognising its Environmental Product Declarations (EPD).
Will help accelerate the ongoing transition to an environmentally-friendly construction industry
The Scheme assesses producers annually against benchmark sustainability performance, assisting the better performing producers independently verify environmental and social performance of their product and its production processes.
Utilising a Rosette Rating System, credits are awarded to recognise and incentivise levels of performance exceeding mandatory levels, enabling organisations to better understand and plan a ‘transition pathway’ from current performance levels to an aspirational ‘sustainable’ steel production represented by a ‘4 Rosette Rating’.
This rating requires zero-emission steel production, responsible sourcing, good safety record, sustainably produced and processed constructional steel, with a digital record.
For steel specifiers and procurement teams, the Scheme’s easy to access producer performance data and information allows them to easily and accurately assess and demonstrate the expected certification requirements of the leading construction firms and government.
 IEA (2020), The challenge of reaching zero emissions in heavy industry, IEA, Paris.