Stainless steel is theoretically 100% recyclability and its long term life makes it an ideal environmental performer much better than many other materials. Stainless steel products are designed to have a long life; often spanning over several decades. This long term life generally is the reason for choosing stainless steel in the first place. However of course there will be a time when the stainless steel does come to the end of its useful life. The end of life may be reached due to fashion changes (product still functions but the design is out-dated), technological redundancy (product is replaced by a more efficient technology) or the product reaches the end of its design life.
Even though the end of life is reached, this does not mean that the stainless steel is not useful as a recyclable product. The main alloying elements of stainless steel (chromium, nickel and molybdenum) are all highly valuable and can be easily be recovered and separated from other materials.