July 16, 2017

Taking Care of Our Environment While We Take Care of Business

Close your eyes and imagine a traditional steel mill. What do you see? Smoke. Dirt. Pollution. Would you call us crazy if we told you that Big River Steel is actually making the environment cleaner? Well, we are.

In March 2017, Big River’s Flex Mill® became the first steelmaking facility to be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified. Much like what you probably imagined, the steel industry typically isn’t associated with clean, healthy environments. But from day one, it was our commitment to give back not to just to the community, but to our physical surroundings.

Before there was a steel mill, there were soybean fields. How did a soybean field become the future site of the world’s first Flex Mill®? Located on the Mississippi River, mainline railroad and major highways, it was the ideal spot for receiving scrap – which in-and-of-itself is environmentally beneficial as recycled materials – and shipping steel by rail, barge and truck. Luckily for the land, the Big River team was conscious of the property and worked hard to sustain it. That dedication is what our LEED certification represents.

When it comes to physical land, Big River preserved more than 50% of our site as open space. We made a conscious choice to conserve the area as much as possible by only using what was needed. What’s more, we actively gave back to the land by planting five acres of trees and mitigating or adding 23 acres of wetlands.

The conservation of water also played a significant role in our LEED certification. An impressive 100% of storm water run-off from buildings is captured onsite and re-used to support the waste water treatment process. Thanks to the treatment process, when water is returned to the Mississippi River, it goes back cleaner than when it was pulled from the ground or gathered from the air.

The image in your mind of a steel mill starts to change, doesn’t it?

Our commitment to sustainability will not fade. To ensure sustainable operations moving forward, we have instituted four operational policies:

  1. Building hardscape and landscape maintenance
  2. Green cleaning
  3. Integrated pest management (indoors and outdoors)
  4. Sustainable purchasing and waste management

When you come to visit us in Osceola, your ride will take you through classic mid-Delta landscape. Wide open land. Cotton fields. A two-lane highway. In the distance, you’ll catch quick glimpses of Big River. Our bright blue façade peeking out above the trees, slowly making itself more and more visible.

Surprisingly, the mill fits in almost seamlessly with its surroundings. You don’t suddenly enter an industrial area. Rather, it feels like Big River Steel was always there. And in a way, it was. Approximately 35% of the building materials were extracted, harvested and manufactured within 500 miles of our site. It was vital for us to not only weave the Osceola community into our operations, but also to weave all that the environment would provide into our home.