EU steel packaging recycling hits all-time high

Recycling of steel packaging in Europe has hit an all-time high of 82.5%, according to the Association of European Producers of Steel for Packaging (APEAL).

This new record rate, representing data from 2018, confirms steel as Europe’s most-recycled primary packaging material, according to APEAL, and means that more than eight out of 10 steel items put on the EU market this year have been recycled into new steel products.

“A recycling increase of two percentage points sends a clear message to all stakeholders in the value chain that steel for packaging is a tried, tested and sustainable packaging solution, fit for a 21st century circular economy,” said Alexis Van Marcke, secretary-general of APEAL.

“Steel is circular by design. Magnetic properties make steel easy to collect and steel can be recycled repeatedly without any loss of material quality. Today’s rise in recycling rates is largely the result of increased separate collection in countries such as Italy and Poland.

“As 100% of separately collected steel packaging is used to make new products, steel is clearly the best placed of all packaging materials to achieve the aims of the new Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP 2.0).”

Despite the positive figures, APEAL believes there is “no room for complacency”. The organisation said the industry has achieved great deal to date, but that it must continue to strive towards the improvement of collection and recycling of steel packaging throughout the EU. Van Marcke added: “Indeed, we welcomed the European Commission’s ambition to harmonise separate collection of packaging waste streams in the EU, demonstrated in the CEAP 2.0.

“Separate collection is the best way of guaranteeing high quality input into recycling operations.”

In 2018, more than 4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide were saved through recycling steel, the equivalent of taking 870,000 cars off the road for one year, according to APEAL.

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