Steel packaging exceeds EU 2025 recycling rate

New independently verified figures published by APEAL, the Association of European Producers of Steel for Packaging, show that steel packaging has already met its new EU recycling rate target for 2025, four years ahead of schedule.

Steve Claus, Secretary General of APEAL, highlighted the significance of these findings, stating: “The figures affirm that steel remains the most widely recycled sales packaging material in Europe, a testament to its unique properties and the collaborative efforts of stakeholders across the value chain to maintain a 100% closed material loop.

“Unlike many other packaging materials, our newly published figures are based on the actual recycling of steel packaging, not merely its collection.”

This follows the introduction of a harmonised method for calculating packaging recycling rates within the EU, which APEAL welcomed as an important step towards creating a level playing field for all packaging materials in Europe. 

Previously, EU member states utilised varying methods to determine their recycling rates for different materials, which led to inflated rates and masked the recycling challenges associated with multi-material packaging formats.

The introduction of a new methodology, focusing on the amount of material actually recycled at the entrance of recycling operations, signifies a major shift towards accuracy and transparency in the European packaging industry.

While several EU Member States adopted the new EU calculation methodology last year, and more have implemented the updated rules this year, we continue to navigate a transitional period, with eight Member States still adhering to the previous regulations.

APEAL is proud that its newly published figures correspond to the amount of packaging that is really recycled and not just collected, aligning with the progressive approach adopted by the EU. These figures reveal that 78.5% of steel packaging was ‘really recycled’ in 2021, equivalent to nearly 8 out of every 10 steel packaging items put on the market. This achievement means that the EU steel recycling rate target of 70% by 2025 has already been reached.

“Steel’s magnetic properties make it easily recoverable from any waste stream, and its permanent quality ensures it can be recycled repeatedly without any loss in material quality.

“These attributes have allowed steel to remain the most widely recycled primary packaging material in Europe for another year running and demonstrate why steel is so well aligned with the EU’s vision for a circular economy,” added Steve Claus.

By focusing on actual recycling tonnages rather than collected or sorted tonnages, APEAL and its partners aim to collectively build a greener, more circular future, further promoting sustainability and resource conservation in the packaging industry.

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