ResponsibleSteel FAQs

History and Background

1. What is the history of ResponsibleSteel?

ResponsibleSteel is a relatively new programme built on eight years of work to define and promote steel that has been produced and sourced responsibly. The Australian Steel Stewardship Forum initially developed the concept and programme and worked with more than 70 stakeholders and 180 individuals on the initial development of the ResponsibleSteel Standard.

2. What is it?

The steel industry is the largest materials industry in the global economy. At 1 trillion USD turnover, it is 7.5 times the size of the copper industry, 10 times the size of the aluminium industry and around 3 times the value of the cement industry. Steel is a key component for thousands of the products that make our lives possible, from building materials to automobiles.

ResponsibleSteel is the only global multi-stakeholder standard and certification initiative for steel. It is a not for profit organisation which administers an independent third-party certification programme for the steel value chain. The Standard has been developed through a process that aims to be compliant with the ISEAL Code of Good Practice for standard-setting. ResponsibleSteel is a membership-led programme and new members are welcome from anywhere in the world, from every part of the steel supply chain, and from businesses, civil society groups, associations, and other types of organisations.

3. How is it developed?

At its heart ResponsibleSteel is a multi-stakeholder collaboration between business and civil society. Neither group can achieve ResponsibleSteel’s mission on its own. Together we believe that we can change the world. Everyone should win from schemes like ResponsibleSteel.

4. Why have it?

Major manufacturers and users of steel in the transport, construction, packaging, infrastructure and energy sectors are voicing a growing expectation that the materials they use have been sourced and produced responsibly. Initiatives have already been established to provide such a guarantee for aluminium, concrete, stone, and aggregates and, with ResponsibleSteel, there is now one for all sources of steel.

Together, mining and the processing of mined material to make steel have substantial environmental, social and economic impacts – both positive and negative. Compliance with local legal obligations alone is not sufficient to meet the expectations of customers, stakeholders and civil society and there is a need for responsible producers of steel to respond to these developments. The ResponsibleSteel programme is designed to be a key element of this response.

Internationally recognised sustainability standards are good for customers, good for business, and good for the people in supply chains and their environment. They are an effective way of supporting progress towards sustainable development goals, such as the availability of clean water, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, creating jobs, and developing responsible patterns of production and consumption.

5. What are the benefits?

Independent research commissioned by ISEAL found that sustainability standards improve market access, profitability and production for certified businesses, and enhance reputation while reducing risk for manufacturers and retailers. Early business benefits related to sales and marketing were most frequently mentioned, followed by benefits on operations, procurement, stakeholder engagement and sector-wide change. Almost all sources (98%) referred to sales and marketing related benefits, 78% of the sources to operations related benefits and 70% to procurement related benefits.

Credible international sustainability standards:

  • help organisations reach their social and environmental objectives, giving competitive and reputational advantage
  • create higher impact on environmental and social issues
  • reward social and environmental achievement
  • facilitate multi-stakeholder consensus on what constitutes responsible performance and practice
  • help build effective global partnerships and relationships across the public, private and voluntary sectors – sharing best practice and experience
  • improve market access through a global forum for ongoing constructive dialogue
  • increase transparency and understanding of supply chains
  • improve business operations and secure a licence to operate, supporting compliance with relevant regulatory requirements
  • are backed up by independent assurance of systems and performance
  • reduce duplication of effort and costs through standardisation

6. How is ResponsibleSteel funded?

ResponsibleSteel is funded through membership fees, additional financial contributions by some of its Members, grants from philanthropic foundations and in-kind contributions from its civil society and business participants.

For more information on how to contribute, please contact us.

7. What do ResponsibleSteel Members commit to?

On joining, our Members agree to support the ResponsibleSteel programme in different ways. For exmnaple, steel compay members have to commit to getting at least one of their sites certified within two years of joining our organisation. The full details of commitments are available in the Membership Commitments by-law.

In addition, our Members must comply with the ResponsibleSteel Constitution and the Governance Handbook, covering:

  • Anti-Trust Compliance Policy
  • Complaints Mechanism, including any disciplinary proceedings or applicable sanctions that may apply as a result
  • ResponsibleSteel claims and the use of logos and other intellectual property
  • Payment of membership fees

8. How are membership fees structured?

A key principle is to be a multi-stakeholder not for profit organisation, encouraging membership of all types. A range of membership fees are applicable depending on the type, size and/or purpose of an organisation. Membership fees are set by our Board and reviewed from time to time. For organisations that are commercially active in the steel supply chain, annual membership fees are determined by annual turnover/revenue.

Our current fee structure is available here.

9. Will it make a difference?

The mission of ResponsibleSteel is to maximise the contribution of steel to a sustainable society, and the ResponsibleSteel Standard is designed to achieve this in consultation with leading businesses, civil society organisations and technical specialists.

ResponsibleSteel is committed to becoming a full ISEAL Member as soon as feasible. In order to become an ISEAL Member, ResponsibleSteel will implement the ISEAL Impacts Code to be able to demonstrate the impacts of its programme.

Recognising companies that meet or exceed agreed international standards encourages improvements across the sector and around the world, in whatever regulatory environment a business is operating.

10. What is your mission?

Our mission is to provide businesses and consumers worldwide with confidence that the steel they use has been sourced and produced responsibly at all levels of the steel supply chain, from suppliers of raw materials, through to end users. ResponsibleSteel is the forum for this discussion, to the mutual benefit of all participants.