Steel packaging recycling in Europe hits all-time high

Steel packaging recycling in Europe has hit an all-time high of 84%, according to new figures.

Data from the Association of European Producers of Steel for Packaging (APEAL) shows an increase of 1.5% in recycling, representing the sector’s ninth consecutive year of growth.

Alexis Van Maercke, secretary-general of APEAL, believes this strong recycling performance highlights steel as one of the most sustainable packaging solutions available.

“As APEAL continues to work closely with the European Commission, European Parliament and member states to deliver the Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) 2.0, this latest record recycling rate also sends a clear message to all stakeholders in the value chain that steel for packaging is tried, tested, and perfectly suited to a 21st-century circular economy,” said Van Maercke.

“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. 100% of recycled steel is used for new steel products – a bridge, a wind turbine, or even a new item of packaging.

“Increased separate collection is a key driver for increased recycling, with notable increases in countries such as Italy and Poland attributed to increased separate collection and greater public awareness of the benefits of steel recycling.”

APEAL believes that more can be done, however, and recently announced its 2025 vision for recycling – zero steel packaging sent to landfill.

Additionally, a new recycling rate objective in line with the new EU calculation methodology is set to be revealed later this year. 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 operation. This means that no impurities can be included and only materials that are ‘really’ recycled can be included in the measurement process.

“APEAL aims to be the first to release our figures with the new methodology,” said Van Maercke.

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