It is usually not economically feasible to utilize conventional sorting and recycling techniques to treat complex industrial waste due to the heterogeneous nature thereof and hence, it is mostly discarded of by landfilling. In the present study, complex wastes derived from the automobile industry have been used as an input stream for the modification of steel surfaces. High abrasion and corrosion resistance steels have attracted much interest in industrial applications because costs associated with product failure can be minimized. Although these classes of steel increase the abrasion and corrosion resistance, they contain expensive alloying elements that increase cost and in addition, complicate production techniques. For this reason, several surface hardening techniques have been developed to improve the abrasion and corrosion resistance of less expensive carbon steel, but these techniques are in general not cost-effective. In this study, a complex industrial waste stream has been transformed in situ via precisely controlled high temperature reactions to produce a chemically-bonded ceramic surface on normal carbon steel. The ceramic surface increases both the compressive strength of the steel, and therefore its abrasion and corrosion resistance. Furthermore, by modifying the composition of the waste input and the processing parameters, the ceramic surface can be effectively customized to match the intended application of the steel. This economical new approach marries industry demands for more cost-effective, durable steel products with global imperatives to address resource depletion and environmental degradation through the recovery of resources from waste.