Betts on the Future: Episode 26 | Tamara Weinert | Outokumpu

Live from the ISRI2024 podcast stage Jennifer, @MarvelousMrsMetals, is joined by Tamara Weinert who has a passion for sustainability in the stainless steel recycling field. Tamara discusses her journey from banking to metals, Outokumpu’s mission for a world that lasts forever, and how the drive for sustainability leads to more passion in the industry. Produced by Recycled Media.


welcome to bets on the future where we highlight the various career paths in the electrifying Metals World from the vehicle you ride in to the bridge holding it up medals are everywhere why not in your career too I’m Jennifer Betts a medals industry veteran with almost 20 years experience here to highlight these incredible career paths As Told by the women who are living them we are very fortunate to have Miss Tamar weer she is the president of aot compu the stainless steel manufacturer in North America I want to do a brief bio for her because with Miss Robin weiner we know her a little bit more but some of us may not be aware of AOC Compu even though they are the second largest stainless steel manufacturer in North America Miss weiner is currently president and CEO of autoc comput business area Americas under her leadership of the Americas has seen consistent operational Improvement in positive Resorts before joining the America she was a senior Vice President of Sales for otok Compu after serving as the European CFO from 2013 to 2016 ampu is one of the largest stainless steel producers in the world

and a listed company headquartered in hinski during her career she was based in Germany India Singapore Russia Pakistan the the Netherlands and Finland Tamara holds a master’s degree in finance from Manchester business school and an MSC in protected Landscape Management from University of grch I just want to say a huge thank you for traveling to Las Vegas at the I 224 conference and joining us on a special edition of the live episode of bets on the future so thank you so much for joining us thanks for having me it’s really nice to be here for those that are joining us in the audience today what we do on bets on the Futures we go a little bit over the various careers in the metals industry and obviously you’ve had a very I’d say traveled uh career in the industry I want to go back a little bit I don’t imagine that you probably growing up were like I want to go into Metals manufacturing how how did you come to find the metals industry like what what brought you to that moment um no it’s correct I I didn’t dream of stainless steel uh

growing up um I was actually I’m a banker by profession I worked 17 years for a bank and then I moved into um an energy company a utility with a very big uh energy trading arm um and I became uh the treasurer for a very well-rated utility vattenfall in Sweden and I looked for a challenge and I said um to to some people that I would like to work for a company with a sub investment grade rating um instead of an A+ rating because as a Treasurer that is just so much more challenging and it got delivered and they said we just have the right thing for you um as you know stainless deel companies specifically in Europe have been under pressure for quite some time due to the structure of the industry um and oh to kumu um and T C stainless steel at that time still definitely more sub-investment grade rate so that’s how I joined and haven’t looked back it’s it’s a fantastic material it’s a fantastic product it was like a fish to water it it really goes into pretty much anything I mean it it really is

a versatile material that most people really don’t understand how it touches a lot of our everyday lives and it’s pretty incredible what autoc Compu has done particularly in North America um I don’t know if the majority of the population really even understands what autoc Compu has built up in North America in in particular you’ve been particularly focused on the sustainability in in this part of of the world has that always been a focus for utoku or has that been something that’s been a little bit of a shift in recent years I mean okumu as you said earlier we are one of the global players when it comes to stainless steel production we produce in Finland we produce in Sweden Germany and we um produce in Mexico and uh around 2010 2011 12 we started our operations in Alabama in the US um and it it has been a challenging Journey again the structure of the industry is not uh so easy and I think it is a product as you said it’s very versatile you find it in the washing machines and the dishwashers um in in Cutlery in high corrosion environments like undersea

cables Aerospace it’s everywhere it’s hygienic it’s beautiful you find it on the outside of buildings so it’s a absolutely fabulous material but what what makes it really so very very outstanding is that it’s so much part of uh the circular economy um and that’s why also and I call it the scrap industry you could say recycle content for me scrap is a beautiful word um we convert a lot of scrap into again a new material and every gram of stainless steel we produced can be reused again 100% and our recycled content ratio um group-wide is around 95% um and in the Americas we very often manage to even be a little bit higher for that it shows that recycled material is our most important raw material and it makes it for me a product that fits very much into the the challenges of today uh it is circularity um it is the environment sustainability and as a product it always was that it didn’t need more messaging around that it was always been able to be fully reused but of course we have seen a shift in perceptions over the last 20 years

so I think it fits really very well in today’s time and so to put really sustainability more into the focal point of our strategy has been a conscious decision though the product itself always was that in the United States I would say I’m very much generalizing but I would say the majority of the population really is unaware what an electric Arc furnace is right and so when you’re talking about the recycled material content you’re talking about putting it into an electric Arc furnace the eafs that you that you have uh it’s it’s pretty impressive what you’re doing with the facilities that you have on site and that you’re looking at expanding and and growing that uh you know using additional recycled material content in that and and and pushing that because there are some facilities that you know sometimes you do have to use um more pure nickel and some other Alloys in there and it’s very fascinating to see the technology that you’re using to make sure that you’re focusing more on that sustainable front yes I think the I mean when you when you work as a as an organization with all

your people to get your carbon footprint down to the lowest level that you can in stainless steel the raw material input is one of the main drivers um and so the higher your recycle content ratio is uh you have a very good starting point for that um and it is the fabulous work really of procurement together with our scrap suppliers um together with operations to make that day byday melt for melt a reality um and if you only have 2% to play with to get the chemistry right and you have to get the chemistry right because again High corrosion high temperatures um hygienic uh all of what the material has to deliver comes of course uh from from from the chemistry and the way we we roll it um and so it is really a fantastic work of of all of these together to deliver this every day and then for the rest of the material where you do need some primary material Etc also there you look for low carbon sources you look for sustainable material and sustainability is not only the carbon footprint it also is of course about everything that goes

around it other environmental uh protection and structures it is about Fair Labor it is about no child labor it is about human rights everything that goes with it and we have built uh a department which goes onto audits into our suppliers and especially for primary material these are sometimes difficult places in the world but we work together and we try to get the best material which we can for our for our material that lends me into my next question on this one autoc com’s mission is to work towards a world that lasts forever what does that mean necessarily in terms of the environmental sustainability for autoc Compu on that front it’s for sure a journey we’re not we’re not yet there however if you look and I start again with the carbon footprint because that’s very often the kpi that is of course used the most since 2016 we have reduced our carbon footprint in our material by 27% until 2023 and the target is and we will achieve that 42% by 2030 and of course again and it’s not only the carbon footprint you look at Water conversation you look at the nitrates

you look at the air quality the water quality you look at waste reduction Etc and again uh the the recycling industry is so very important for that because everything I cannot recycle if it goes into landfill is it’s like losing you know you want to you want to make the best out of the material which you have so you work on all of these different aspects um and sometimes it’s small things and if you if you have passionate people in your organization on this and we do have that good ideas come up all the time and you work on them and so it’s it’s it’s absolutely fantastic yes so on on the people front I have to ask can you share any examples on how autoc compus business area specifically in in the mar the Americas has made efforts to be a more sustainable company here particularly let’s say in the US I think what made a big difference and we started that Journey more a couple of years ago was to to make it something we watch right because what you measure and where you put your attention on that is where very

often you you get a very energetic uh response from the organization so it starts with you know paper to be recycled and not thrown away in the office to be careful how we use um any material which which which which we require um we had a nitrate reduction um project very successful one in our area and we our Mill is is in the mobile tenso Delta it’s the most beautiful area I’ve never seen anything so beautiful full of Nature and and biodiversity so it is of course our responsibility as a company who who works there to ensure that we don’t harm the environment um and so the target always must be that every day you need to be the best company you can be and you improve year on year month on month day by day with the ideas that come up and you implement them one by one and it’s not always a fast Journey but again we we we get some very good ideas how to save energy water consumption Etc from the organization I do have to mention um I don’t think I mentioned this in some of the our correspondents

back and forth I did have the honor to tour your facility um uh in uh Mobile Alabama um I want to say 2015 2016 uh it was the cleanest steel mill I’ve ever have ever tored uh and it it was in pristine condition um it’s very clear your your employees have a lot of pride in in in where they work uh it was very impressive to see the facility and how it was run um obviously we’re approaching a decade since since that’s been there um what kind of uh technological advancements have been put in place I don’t want to say since then I mean it’s it’s pretty it’s pretty much an one of the most advanced stainless steel mills that’s out there so I don’t know if it was that when I went there or if it’s since had additional uh improvements since then it’s been about a decade so I could be a little bit out out of date since that tour I guess once the mill is built your basic infrastructure is there right um and so in the mill itself we make uh continuous improvements all the time um in in

in our ening um furnaces uh we we we we had some coating on the inside which is energy efficient um so it’s just one of the many ideas which which come up and you implement it you measure and you see is it is it a a good Improvement and it is a really good Improvement and uh very very energy efficient for us um we improved a lot on our logistic um by really pushing for much more non-truck movements as well um stainless material travels very well by Rail and so that is a huge Improvement in the CO2 footprint um the biggest Focus very often is I mean in in stainless it’s the raw material it’s the electric because of the electric AR furnaces um and it is the transport so these are the three things you really focus upon when it comes on the environmental sustainability social uh sustainability is then more around of course safety as our main kpi and we made huge improvements uh there as well we’re very proud of that uh and other of the social aspects but the mill itself really it’s a continuous Improvement day by day

looking at the processes cutting out waste improving your yield every little bit of material you can use and you don’t have to melt back is good for your carbon footprint so there’s a lot you can do by running a mill in an efficient consistent manner which helps you with your carbon footprint so we’ve been focusing a lot on the positive I do have to shift a little bit on on the negative side what would you say is the biggest threat in terms of the environmental sustainability for the stainless steel industry there’s a of course a lot of small things you work upon again um water quality air quality we we have an asset regeneration plan that helps a lot um but these are these are more smaller side issues the big issue in the stainless steel industry is around Imports um we have a a huge import flux despite all the measures um that we have seen taken and we’re very grateful um for the for the US government for the the listening to the issues of the industry and acting accordingly we have usmca we have um some duties on the real worst

offenders we have section 232 biomerica Provisions despite this we have an import ratio of 25 to 30% and that material can come in because to a very large degree it is very dirty so if the door is open to import dirty material because the cost Advantage is so high on the raw material side because it’s not recycled content it’s nickel pig iron it’s really difficult um and we see the pressures of these Imports that are so much cheaper and are so much more dirty in Europe really a lot uh as otok kumu we had to close two Mel trops in Europe and thousands of trop not only ours got lost in that import influx and it’s something I think politicians play now uh much more attention to um and the US has been much better with that but despite that 25 to 30% of imports still come in I did not realize it was that high on on that front I mean I knew Imports were obviously coming in but I didn’t realize in perspective compared to our domestic production it’s a higher market share than what OT kumu has as the second largest

producer wow so it is a very big player still and imagine now we would not have all of these measures what the situation would be like wow is that number also factoring in the finished products that are coming into wow okay um for for those that are listening at home since this is a podcast um she is shaking her head no no indirect Imports as we call them of finished products um not part of that calculation wow um you know on on a little bit of a a side note on this um it’s a bit of a I’ll call it a pet project pet peeve uh those Stanley Yeti stainless steel tumblers that everyone loves in every single color size metric they’re designed in the United States not one of them is actually made in the United States with any of our domestic stainless steel yes that’s used with eaf recycled material that is a big shame because I mean the the steel the stainless steel that is produced in the US is the cleanest in the world it is an excellent quality and of course we would wish that in some of the

procurement decisions it would be taken into account we understand it’s a competitive market out there and the protection that is given um to the stainless steel producers does not go all the way through to the end product and so I I understand that in business you have to make a profit to survive there’s no doubt about that yes but just how large of a profit do do they need to make at the expense of you know the sustainability front yes of course I do hope everyone listens to you yes uh I’m still pushing that front very good thank you on that on that on on that one is there anything going forward when you’re taking a look at the stainless steel Market the you know the opportunities that are out there that you would give to someone that’s looking to get into the metals industry now that you’ve you’ve been in it you’ve traveled the world you’ve worked in different locations is there any advice that you would give to someone that’s looking to get into this world I think there are wonderful opportunities in in our industry um because it’s it’s so versatile

right uh sales production supply chain I mean it it fulfills the whole range of of of things you want to do of course the area in in the Mobile Bay is absolutely beautiful for nature lovers out there I can highly recommend it uh but on top of that there is a lot of passion in it because of the of the sustainability aspect of it it fits the circular economy to a it’s really a fantastic material which is used in so many different applications so I think once people go into the industry they hardly ever leave because it is a fascinating uh industry uh which creates a lot of passion in the employees as well and we we we have the most fantastic people it’s it’s most amazing yes yes I do know a few of your employees and they are fantastic they they are great to work with and they really are passionate about this industry it it’s the perfect melting pot if you will of the sustainability the you know the the manufacturing the economy the environment it really is the the perfect comination for especially for the Next Generation that does really

care about essentially all of those those topics for a lifelong career and and metals are pretty much everywhere so if you’re looking to move to a different location there’s always going to be an opportunity for you in the future I fully agree with that and of course first time you you stand in the M shop and the electros go into the ofen and the ground shakes below your feet and the material melts with electricity it’s un forgettable and you will not leave it easily uh yes that pretty much the first time that I ever saw that hooked done in for Life absolutely I want to say huge thank you to you for for coming hopping on the podcast it it’s been wonderful learning more about your business what you’ve been bringing to the table the huge push on what autoc Compu has been doing especially in the Americas on the sustainability front thank you for the eafs The increased production the huge recycled materials content and your products and and just overall thank you for joining us at the I 2024 conference thank you so much for having me and thanks for everything you

do for the industry I really appreciate it thank you thank you