LIFE17 ENV/ES/000228

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Contact details:

Contact person: Félix Bayón
Tel: 34944871806
Email: felix.bayon@sidenor.com

Project description:


Refractory or heat resistant materials are used to protect equipment in industries working at high temperature (steel, glass, cement). Refractories are produced from a wide range of mineral compounds, such as aluminosilicates, magnesite, dolomite, chromite, zirconia, carbides, nitrides and oxides. Recycling refractories is complex because of this variability in their composition. In addition, it is common to use more than one refractory type in linings of furnaces or other equipment, making recycling even more complex. Some refractories – for example, those containing zirconium, or specialised refractories that might contain other materials – are not currently recyclable and are sent to landfill when they become waste.

Availability of refractories is important for steel production in the European Union. The EU produces 177 million tonnes of steel per year (11% of global production), making it the world’s second producer after China. The EU refractories sector has annual sales of about €4 billion but is dependent on the availability of raw materials, which might be affected by tight conditions imposed by exporting nations, in particular China.


The LIFE 5REFRACT project will design and implement a strategy, based on the 5R approach (reduce-reuse-remanufacture-recycle-re-educate), for the management of the refractory waste generated in steel sector. The strategy will cover a range of options, in line with the waste hierarchy, for refractory waste, including direct reuse, reprocessing and the production of new refractory masses, thus reducing the amount of refractory waste sent to landfill.

Among the project’s activities will be the testing of new technologies to facilitate the separation of refractories for optimum reuse. Spent refractories will be tested in a number of different applications that do not need significant modification of formats or compositions. An analysis of the remanufacturing of spent refractories will be done. When reuse or remanufacture is not possible, new refractory materials incorporating recycled refractory will be produced.

In this way, the project will test circular economy and resource-efficient approaches. The project results will be presentedto the Technical Working Group working on the Best Available Techniques reference document (BREF) on steel and iron production, with the objective of including the solutions developed by the project as reference guidelines for the European steel sector.

Expected results:

  • Development of new high added-value refractory materials that will be up to 70% reprocessed material from spent refractories;
  • Avoidance of the landfilling of 3 600 tonnes of refractory waste during the project. Once the project is completed, the application of the project’s findings in all SIDENOR’s factories in Spain will lead over three years to up to 9 400 tonnes of refractory waste not being sent to landfill;
  • Greenhouse gas emissions reduced by 3 340 tonnes CO2/year and energy consumption reduced by 6 100 000 kWh/year for the duration of the project, through the incorporation of secondary raw materials in refractory products;
  • Production of recommendation and guidelines to be included in the BREF on iron and steel production.



Environmental issues addressed:


Industry-Production - Metal industry


energy efficiency‚  environmental education‚  waste recycling‚  emission reduction‚  waste reduction‚  reuse of materials‚  raw material consumption‚  iron and steel industry

Target EU Legislation

  • Industry and Product Policy
  • Directive 2010/75 - Industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control) (24.11.201 ...
  • Waste
  • Directive 75/442/EEC -"Waste framework directive" (15.07.1975)
  • Directive 1999/31 - Landfill of waste (26.04.1999)

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Type of organisation Large enterprise
Description Sidenor Aceros Especiales (SIDENOR) is a steel company, headquartered in the Basque Country town of Basauri. From facilities in northern Spain, SIDENOR produces about 750 000 tonnes of steel per year, in particular forged and cast steel products. The company employs more than 2 000 people.
Partners REFRALIA, S.L., Spain Universidad de Málaga, Spain SIDENOR INVESTIGACIÓN Y DESARROLLO S. A., Spain Magnesitas Navarras, S.A., Spain 2.-0 LCA consultants, Denmark


Project reference LIFE17 ENV/ES/000228
Duration 01-JUL-2018 to 30-SEP -2020
Total budget 1,675,395.00 €
EU contribution 1,005,234.00 €
Project location País Vasco(España)


Read more:

Project web site Project's website


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version