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    HomeFeaturesInterviewsMihaela Popescu, TenarisSilcotub: “The future of the metals industry lies in the...

    Mihaela Popescu, TenarisSilcotub: “The future of the metals industry lies in the ability to deliver high quality products aligned with new technologies and sustainable processes”

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    “We see two important challenges in the Romanian market, which are, at the same time, two major opportunities: one is the lack of technology and, the other, is the lack of incentives. When we talk about technology, the biggest challenge is to further develop as to process as many types of waste and alternative materials as possible, and to actively pursue the development of technologies involving the use of hydrogen,” Mihaela Popescu, President of TenarisSilcotub told Sustainability Today.

    “Regarding an incentive system, we believe that one of the directions should be to create a balanced bonus-malus system, thus creating an economic rationale for waste recovery and avoiding final disposal.

    We believe that the future of the metals industry lies in the ability to deliver high quality products aligned with new technologies and sustainable processes.

    In short, technology and a balanced incentive system to encourage the circular economy are our challenges and opportunities in the present times.”

    What innovation and circular economy’s sustainable projects is your company implementing to achieve sustainability goals?

    First, it is important to know that all our steel is produced in electric arc furnaces, where recycled steel scrap is used as the primary source of metallic feedstock with substantially lower carbon emissions than steel produced using iron ore and metallurgical coal as the primary feedstock.  The EAF technology is one of the pillars of decarbonization and a sustainable alternative for steel production. This is the “cleanest” technology available in the steel industry worldwide.

    In addition, at local level, our steel mill in Romania is part of Retrofeed, a waste to energy project within the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program, that is testing different materials used in the steelmaking process to enhance circularity. This includes reusing materials which can be a source of energy, replace coal, and thus contribute to lowering the carbon footprint. Moreover, more than 640,000 tons of scrap and 5 alternative materials are recycled annually in our Calarasi steelworks.

    In what educational projects and academic/ research/ university partnerships has your company been involved in 2022 with impact in sustainability (sustainability educational projects, partnerships)?

    I would address this in terms of community relations actions as we have three major pillars: education, health and culture, with special focus on education, through programs addressing from kindergarten to post-graduate.

    Our priority is technical education, where since 2004, we invest in scholarships for students in the technical schools from our communities, summer internship for students in technical high schools, training courses for teachers and also equipping technical schools with modern equipment. Having a forward-thinking mindset, we have managed to change the curriculum to be applied to the work requirements and we introduced topics such as environmental protection, recycling.

    In 2022 we launched an environment education program “Academia Micilor Ecologisti” that aims to teach 6th grade pupils the importance of environment protection. We do this through hands on experiences when pupils see the cause and effect and experiment with different materials and processes. We target 2 of our communities, Zalau and Calarasi, reaching more than 600 pupils.

    What are the pillars of your sustainability program?

    We have a three-pillar concept of sustainability: social, economic, and environmental).

    TenarisSilcotub’s top priorities is to lead with care, providing a flexible and agile working environment, while allowing employees to develop their skills and careers. Our people, their enthusiasm, ideas, efficiency, and skills are our most valued asset and top priority since they are the precursor for business growth and unlocking a more sustainable future.

    Furthermore, we take pride with our commitment to reduce our environmental footprint within our communities and value chain, working with partners and peers to address the climate change challenge and transition to a carbon neutral economy.

    Tenaris is also committed to strengthening a corporate culture of integrity, business ethics, transparency and rational decision making.

    As an industry leader, we believe that our responsibility to reduce the environmental impact of our activity is an opportunity to embrace innovation and technology change.

    Within the last 10 years, Tenaris’ commitment to the environment towards economic sustainability has become a constant dedication. By being sustainable, we ensure our long-term presence.

    What sustainability challenges does your organization face?

    We see two important challenges in the Romanian market, which are, at the same time, two major opportunities: one is the lack of technology and, the other, is the lack of incentives.

    When we talk about technology, the biggest challenge is to further develop as to process as many types of waste and alternative materials as possible, and to actively pursue the development of technologies involving the use of hydrogen.

    Regarding an incentive system, we believe that one of the directions should be to create a balanced bonus-malus system, thus creating an economic rationale for waste recovery and avoiding final disposal.

    We believe that the future of the metals industry lies in the ability to deliver high quality products aligned with new technologies and sustainable processes.

    In short, technology and a balanced incentive system to encourage the circular economy are our challenges and opportunities in the present times.

    What is TenarisSilcotub’s environmental protection strategy?

    Although we already have a small CO2 footprint, as I mentioned before, we are committed to reducing CO2 emissions by a further 30% by 2030, with concrete plans to produce green steel. We foster the circular economy by maximizing scrap recycling and minimizing waste to landfill. And we ensure responsible water management. The strategy is to prevent, recycle and transform all waste.

    We engage our workforce in focused trainings on specific topics such as Management of leaks and spills of chemical, events Investigation, to share practices of analyzing environmental and safety events to identify the root of the events and therefore find an effective way to prevent them.  For a better understanding of the processes and multilevel coordination, we created the communication routines, dedicated biweekly meetings that shift leaders have with their team members where environmental topics are on the agenda.

    At local level, we design and implement awareness campaigns such as zero plastic, environmentally friendly water recipients for all employees, #FaraHartie internal initiatives, and advancing with the implementation of energy efficiency projects. A major role is played by the top management team because they are actively involved in and support all internal sustainability actions. Additionally, our teams are also engaged through awareness campaigns which are built on accountability and prevention.

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