The Association of European Producers of Steel for Packaging (APEAL) has announced its 2025 vision for recycling – zero steel packaging to landfill – as part of its virtual Steel for Packaging Week event.
The 2025 Vision is set to be supported by action in four key areas, identified by APEAL as ‘critical’ in the drive to prevent steel packaging from being diverted from recycling and wasted.
Alexis Van Maercke, secretary-general of APEAL, said: “The four key areas of action will include a focus on optimising separate waste collection, establishing a scrap quality standard, the collection and sorting of steel closures, and designing for recyclability.
“As APEAL’s recycling report, published in 2018, illustrates, separate collection is the best way of guaranteeing high-quality input into recycling operations. It was, therefore, encouraging to see this highlighted in the Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) 2.0 report adopted by the European Parliament on 9 February.
“Establishing a scrap quality standard is equally important. Crucially, to maintain quality in the steel for packaging scrap value chain, quality control must start when the material is at the sorting facility. This can only be achieved by establishing a quality standard for packaging steel scrap.”
While an average of 82.5% of all steel packaging, including aerosols, is currently recycled across Europe, the collection and sorting of steel closures in Europe is estimated to be below average, according to APEAL. Steel closures are ‘regularly’ put in the wrong waste bin (often in residual waste) by citizens.
Van Maercke believes improving the recycling rate of steel closures will make a “significant contribution” in efforts towards zero steel packaging being sent to landfill.
“But there is currently a lack of clear sorting instructions and low awareness among citizens,” he said. “At the same time, ineffective sorting techniques in several facilities result in collected steel closures being lost and not recycled.”
The Association also believes designing for recyclability will underpin the successful implementation of these measures, helping to ensure that every product placed on the market can be recycled as efficiently as possible.
“Ultimately, steel packaging is a valuable resource which cannot be wasted if we are to achieve the objectives of the European Green Deal,” said Van Maercke. “APEAL will continue to work with its colleagues, the European Commission, European Parliament, member states, and all stakeholders to realise a shared ambition of a truly circular economy.”
The Association will launch a new report, Why Steel Recycles Forever – How to Collect, Sort & Recycle Steel for Packaging, designed to help stakeholders throughout the value chain work collaboratively to achieve the 2025 Vision, in December 2021.
APEAL will also reveal a new recycling rate objective in line with the new EU calculation methodology. Applicable for data from 2020, this new methodology moves the calculation point for all member states and all packaging materials, to the entrance of the recycling operations. This means no impurities can be included and only materials that are really recycled can be included in the measurement process.
Van Maercke concluded: “Indeed, APEAL will release the 2019 steel recycling rate in May. But towards the end of the year, we aim to be the first material to release our figures with this new methodology.”