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Sandvik expertise extends to kitchen, works with chefs to make steel knives
Thursday, 22 October, 2020, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Sandviken, Sweden
Most customers turn to Sandvik Materials Technology when they are searching for large steel billets and tubes, or equipment for industrial furnaces. However, the company’s expertise also extends to the kitchen and the company has previously worked with professional chefs to develop steel knives.

When Craig Lockwood set out to create the world’s most sustainable knives, he knew where to turn for an environmentally-conscious material choice.

Lockwood is the owner of handmade knives business Chop Knives, and has supplied his products to prestigious restaurants including Michelin-starred Black Swan and L’Enclume in the UK. He does not just want to make the best knives on the market, Lockwood also wants his products to be the most sustainable knife choice.

Steel sustainability
The most common blade steel types fall into three categories: carbon steel, tool steel and stainless steel. While carbon steel is generally used for rough use where toughness is important, stainless steel’s added chromium can increase a knife blade’s performance levels.

Steel is the best-performing blade material but Lockwood battled with its environmental status when creating the world’s most sustainable knives. He explains, “As a responsible maker, I thought a lot about how I could make a kitchen knife with a positive effect on the planet. I knew I needed to closely follow the material supply chain to find the best suppliers.”

Steel provides solutions to infrastructure and construction around the world. The material helps build climate-resilient cities and coastal protection, and forms protective designs that minimise the effects of natural disasters. While some of steel’s many uses undoubtedly do good for our planet, the steel industry also generates between seven and nine per cent of direct emissions from the global use of fossil fuel.

So why would Lockwood choose steel as his sustainable blade choice? While the initial production of steel emits large quantities of carbon dioxide, industry leaders are acting to improve the material’s sustainability. Steel is infinitely recyclable, and can be continually repurposed without the loss of properties or performance.

Scrap value
When we think of repurposing old steel, or scrap steel, it could be easy to question the used metal’s quality. To ensure recycled steel maintains its properties, it’s important that the original manufacturer takes responsibility over their material. If a scrap dealer disposes of used steel, it could impact its quality and sustainability.

Difficulties start as steel scrap sorting is not always thorough and similar steel grades are often mixed together. This downcycles the quality of the steel when reusing it as a secondary raw material. It also means the manufacturer must add virgin materials to get the right composition when creating a specific steel grade, which perpetuates a less-sustainable supply chain.

Instead, steel manufacturers can ensure the quality of recycled steel by managing their original assets. Across the European steel industry, steel is typically made up of around 50 per cent recycled material, the rest is virgin raw material. The company’s steel is made up of around 82 per cent secondary raw material, and our goal is to reach 90 per cent by 2030.

The Chop Knives are made up of 78 per cent recycled steel, which Lockwood cuts, shapes and grinds in his workshop to form the perfect blades. The specific steel grades used in the knives are 14C28N and Sandvik 12C27M. This is a martensitic stainless chromium steel developed for the manufacture of kitchen tools.

What’s more, the knives’ steel is produced in one of the most ecologically sound steel mills in the world. A steel mill uses an electric furnace to heat the material before it’s casted and hot rolled. The hot-rolled strips are then treated onsite, reducing transport and ensuring traceability throughout the process. To power the electric furnaces, the company relies of nuclear and hydropower.

Environmentally sharp
In addition to the knives’ blades, Lockwood has also worked to create sustainable knife handles. He reuses kitchen waste, such as yoghurt pots, meat packing trays or water bottles, to help his create a product that completely encapsulates his sustainability values.

The perfect blend of materials innovation, paired with creative thinking, have proven the perfect recipe for Lockwood’s sustainable knives.
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