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Below you will find some questions and answers to help you better understand LESS.

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Why was the Low Emission Steel Standard (LESS) developed?

The LESS labelling system creates transparency about the greenhouse gas intensity of the steel production process by uniformly calculating, classifying and certifying the CO2 emissions caused during the entire steel production process from crude steel to rolled steel – including the emissions generated in the supply industries (i.e. in the upstream chain). Labelling is important in order to classify the climate impact of the production process and to make progress in the transformation visible and assessable. LESS also enables the establishment of „green“ lead markets and thus supports the steel industry in its transformation.

What are green lead markets?

A „green“ lead market serves to incentivise demand for „green“ steel, i.e. steel produced with reduced emissions. Such lead markets are a bridge until basic materials produced with minimised greenhouse gas emissions have become fully established. However, markets for these products can only develop – and the concept of lead markets can only be operationalised – if there are clear and internationally compatible definitions and rules for classifying products and their production methods in terms of their contribution to climate protection. LESS offers such definitions and rules.

You can also find out more about the idea of green lead markets in the short film „Green steel for green value chains“

Why are green lead markets important for the steel industry?

Lead markets were already seen as a central building block on the way to decarbonising the steel industry in the German government’s steel action plan from 2020. These sales markets are an accompanying measure to incentivise demand in a targeted manner. In this way, the initially indispensable public start-up financing can be gradually reduced and replaced completely in the future. The establishment of green lead markets requires a transparent definition of „green“ – i.e. low-emission or near-zero-steel. „near-zero“ steel is essential as a first step. This step has now been taken with LESS.

Who can use LESS?

LESS is a voluntary labelling system. The system is open to all steel producers. In future, steel traders and steel end users will also be invited to participate. LESS is internationally orientated and internationally connectable. LESS will therefore be organised by a non-profit association under Belgian law, which will be based in Brussels. The LESS.AISBL association is currently being founded.

How are steel products labelled in accordance with the LESS standard?

Steel producers must undergo an annual audit in which an external, independent certification company (e.g. TÜV Nord) checks and certifies the classification of the hot-rolled steel quantities. The certified steels may then be labelled with the marking.

Who runs and manages the LESS certification system?

LESS is managed by a Brussels-based AISBL (similar to the e. V. in Germany) as the system owner. The AISBL is managed by a Board of Directors, which is elected by the members of the AISBL. An independent panel of experts advises the members and the system owner’s Board of Directors on the further development of the standard.

What requirements must the companies‘ products fulfil?

Hot-rolled steel is certified as a product. The emission calculations for this product must be carried out in accordance with the LESS rulebook. In order to be labelled on the products, these emission calculations or the hot-rolled steel product must be certified.

Who certifies according to LESS?

Once the certification system has been established, certifications will be carried out by recognised inspection bodies such as TÜV Nord and DNV.

When can companies start participating in the certification process?

The first certifications are to take place once the Brussels-based system owner LESS.AISBL has been established.

What added value does LESS labelling have for customers?

The LESS labelling shows various elements: the scrap content, the classification of the manufacturing process in terms of its climate impact and the product carbon footprint (PCF) or global warming potential (GWP). For customers, the transparent labelling and certification of the CO2 emissions caused in the processes and in the product forms the basis for being able to manage and implement their own sustainability strategies – because they receive all the information they need to document their own CO2 reduction targets. The LESS categorisation makes it possible to compare the decarbonisation efforts of different manufacturers, regardless of the manufacturing process.

Picture: worldsteel/Gregor Schlaeger