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Pupils learn about the environmental benefits of steel recycling

ArcelorMittal Poland's plant in Kraków has produced more than a hundred bicycle racks made of steel obtained from old, coal-burning stoves which residents have exchanged for ecological heating sources.

The company has begun giving these bike racks to 20 schools across the city. Not only will the environment benefit from the old stoves being replaced, but with the steel, they contained recycled into bicycle racks, the hope is to encourage cycling in Krakow, further benefiting air quality in the city.

Residents chose, via Internet voting, which schools would benefit from the racks, as well as the winning design. They chose the design from among nearly 200 proposals echoes the arches of Kraków Cloth Hall, one of the city's most recognisable icons, dating back to the Renaissance and the central feature of the main market square in Kraków's Old Town.

"In our school, we have many students who ride bicycles. That is why when we heard about the vote in which we could win such racks for our school, we did not hesitate for a second," says Kornelia Szklarska, principal of primary school number 67, the first school to get them.

This school regularly participates in environmental initiatives, so when ArcelorMittal Poland launched this programme which not only encourages Kraków residents to replace old stoves but also allows them to be recycled for the benefit of local children, it really resonated here. Thus, the school – through its pupils and teachers, families and friends – mobilised to get the highest number of votes. They achieved their ambition, taking first place out of 50 schools!

The first ten racks are installed there and students are using them to park their bicycles. Beyond that, this action will also serve as a context for environmental education and information about the emission-reduction programme.

Nineteen other schools will soon get five racks each.

ArcelorMittal Poland's Kraków plant and Kraków City Hall are collaborating on this initiative to achieve cleaner air in Kraków. Since the beginning of the year, the company has been paying a PLN 150 bonus to residents who chose to replace their coal or wood-fired stoves for a new low-emission heater subsidised by the municipality.

"For years we have been investing in projects that allow us to limit the impact of our plants on the environment," says Geert Verbeeck, CEO and deputy chairman of the board of ArcelorMittal Poland. "We have already spent PLN 3 billion for this purpose. We understand the impact of heating homes with low-quality fuels can have and we wanted to support City Hall's efforts to limit it."

The project is also an excellent opportunity to show that steel is the fabric of life and that it can be infinitely recycled.

The Kraków plant has so far collected almost 600 old stoves, which it is gradually turning into bike racks. The amount of scrap steel yielded varies from one stove to another, but on average, after cleaning and removing any non-metallic elements, it is possible to make two 30-kilogram racks from each stove. Production of the first batch of 120 began in September and lasted over a month.

"We have done a lot, but the exchange of old stoves continues until September 2019 and is still one of the biggest challenges for the city," comments the mayor of Krakow, Jacek Majchrowski. "Any support received in fulfilling this goal is very valuable for us, which is why I am glad that large companies – like ArcelorMittal – support this municipal programme, particularly because scrap from the melted stoves will contribute to the development of ecological bicycle transport. Each subsequent rack is a new parking space for bicycles, the widespread use of which significantly contributes to improving air quality."