Steel packaging breaks record 10th year running

Recycling of steel packaging in Europe has hit another all-time high of 85.5%, according to figures issued by APEAL, the Association of European Producers of Steel for Packaging. It’s an increase of 1.5% and is the 10th consecutive year in which the overall recycling rate has risen.

Alexis Van Maercke, secretary general of APEAL, said: “The excellent recycling rate which steel packaging continues to improve upon each year, is testament to steel’s strong environmental credentials and the work of stakeholders throughout the value chain to improve recycling processes, infrastructure, and consumer communications.”

It is also significant that more countries than ever before have recycled over 90% of steel packaging. It is a clear signal that closing the loop for steel packaging is within reach which is another exciting step towards a truly circular economy.

Mr Van Maercke continued: “More needs to be done, however. APEAL’s vision, Zero steel packaging to landfill by 2025, remains unchanged and there are still a number of countries which have some way to go to reach the average recycling rate for steel packaging in Europe. Indeed, preventing recyclable packaging from being sent to landfill is one of six key policy recommendations in APEAL’s 2022 recycling report, published earlier this year.”

It follows news of the adoption of the new EU recycling rate calculation methodology which guarantees that only the accepted tonnages at the entrance of the recycling operations are used to calculate the recycled tonnages, instead of collected or sorted tonnages.

Steve Claus, Circular Economy & Sustainability Officer of APEAL added: “A number of Member States have already delivered their recycling figures according to the new EU recycling rate calculation methodology which creates a level playing field, not only for the Member States, but also for the packaging materials as only real recycling will be reported.

“The new methodology is mandatory for 2020 data onwards, to be reported by June 2022 at the latest. However, several Member States will only be able to apply these new rules from next year onwards. 2020 data is therefore considered to be a transition year, but we are confident steel continues to lead the recycling rate for packaging materials across Europe.”

The methodology and data sources used by APEAL to calculate the current recycling rate have been independently reviewed, audited and certified by energy and waste specialist consultancy, Eunomia.

Steel is circular by nature. Magnetic properties make steel easy to collect from any waste stream and, as a permanent material, it can be recycled over and over again without any loss of material quality. In addition, 100% of recycled steel is used for new steel products – a bridge, wind turbine or even a new item of packaging – in the 500+ recycling plants across Europe.

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