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Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon containing less than 2% carbon and 1% manganese and small amounts of silicon, phosphorus, sulfur and oxygen. Steel is the world's most important engineering and construction material yet it is not a single product. There are more than 3,500 different grades of steel with many different physical, chemical, and environmental properties.
Steel's unique magnetic properties make it an easy material to recover from the waste stream to be recycled. The properties of steel remain unchanged no matter how many times the steel is recycled. A British inventor, Henry Bessemer, is generally credited with the invention of the first technique to mass produce steel in the mid 1850s. Steel is still produced using technology based on the Bessemer Process of blowing air through molten pig iron to oxidize the material and separate impurities.