ResponsibleSteel FAQs

History and Background

1. What is the history of ResponsibleSteel?

First incorporated as the Steel Stewardship Council in 2016, ResponsibleSteel is a relatively new programme built on 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 International Standard.

2. What is it?

The steel industry is the largest materials industry in the global economy. With a 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 a 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 ResponsibleSteel International 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, civil society, and beyond.

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 can drive the responsible production of net zero steel, globally. Together we believe that we can change the world.

4. Why have it?

Major manufacturers and users of steel in the transport, construction, 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 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 a higher impact on environmental and social issues;
  • reward social and environmental achievements;
  • 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 license 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 example, steel producers commit to starting the certification process for at least one site within one year of joining. The full details of commitments are available in the Membership Commitments by-law.

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

8. How are membership fees structured?

ResponsibleSteel is 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 revenue.

Our current fee structure is available here.

9. Will it make a difference?

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

ResponsibleSteel is an ISEAL Community Member and is committed to implementing 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 be a driving force in the production of socially and environmentally responsible net zero steel, globally. ResponsibleSteel aims 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 a forum for this discussion, to the mutual benefit of all participants.