Glastonbury Festival kills British steel with recycled cups
The Central Somerset Gazette has news:
Glastonbury Festival supporting British steel with 250,000 reusable stainless steel cups for 2016
How is that supporting British steel, then? The Tata-owned steel works at Port Talbot in south Wales is in trouble. It produces slab, hot rolled, cold rolled and galvanised coil. That’s new steel – virgin steel.
Festival organiser Michael Eavis pulls on a thick glove, holds aloft a steel cup for your red-hot coffee (ouch!) and tells the Somerset paper: “..the single most important thing was being able to source British stainless steel for the cups from the place where it was invented – Sheffield, and then to take it on to the home of manufacture – Birmingham.”
But how does this help British steel?
Teaming up with APS Metal Pressing Ltd, the cups are made from recycled steel which is smelted in Sheffield… “Week after week, there’s a story in the national press about jobs in the UK steel industry being put at risk. There’s seemingly no end to the negative slide of this critical industry and with it the jobs, skills and infrastructure are lost and won’t be replaced.”
These cups are made from recycled steel. That’s not the solution, That’s part of the problem. The BBC tells us in an article called “What’s Going Wrong”:
Demand for steel worldwide has not returned to the levels seen before the financial crisis. As many countries, and particularly China, are seeing weak growth, global demand will remain sluggish – falling 1.7% in 2015 and up by just 0.7% this year. Global steel prices have fallen sharply. Meanwhile, China’s own economic slowdown has led its producers to look for export markets as their home demand stalls. As a result, UK imports of Chinese steel have increased dramatically. In 2014 the UK imported 687,000 tonnes of steel from China, up from 303,000 tonnes in 2013.
And this is telling:
High UK energy costs for energy-intensive businesses like steel production are also a factor, says the industry, added to by the extra cost of climate change policies. And government policies to compensate producers for these extra costs have been too slow, says the industry body UK Steel.
What can be done?
The industry is clear what it needs: lower business rates, a relaxation of carbon emissions targets for heavy manufacturers, more compensation for high energy prices, and a commitment that British steel is used in major construction projects.
It’s the new steel that we need to make. Recycling the stuff doesn’t help – it hurts.
NOTE: On the Glastonbury website we’re told of another campaign:
We are encouraging everyone to bring a reusable water bottle or to purchase a 100% food grade stainless steel water bottle for one of the 10 WaterAid or 2 Raw foundation kiosks onsite.
We called Water Aid to find out where their steel bottles are made. They didn’t know but said they’ll find out and get back to us.
Spotter: Tim Worstall