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Almost there! Europe closing in on 80% steel packaging recycling

Steel packaging recycling in Europe has reached 79.5%, the Association of European Producers of Steel for Packaging has revealed. The group is utmost confident that the 80% recycling target imposed by industry stakeholders will easily be met by the 2020 deadline.

The new figures suggest that for every 10 items of steel packaging put on the European market, roughly  8 have been collected, effectively recycled and transformed into new steel products. The data is based on official 2016 results, so real-time recycling results are thought to be even higher.

‘The most recycled material’

The all-time high represents an increase of 2 percentage points compared to 2015 data, the Association of European Producers of Steel for Packaging (APEAL) reports. It has thus dubbed steel the ‘most recycled packaging material’ in Europe fort he 12th consecutive year, and proof of a successful circular economy.

Consultancy firm Eunomia has thoroughly reviewed and confirmed the methodology and sources APEAL used for its research.

‘Well within reach’

‘Being so close to our 2020 industry target is a great achievement. It shows that a truly circular economy which reduces waste, saves resources and closes the material loop is well within reach of the EU,’ comments Alexis Van Maercke, secretary general of APEAL. He stresses that steel can be recycled ‘forever with no loss of quality’.

APEAL had been aiming for an 80% recycling rate for steel packaging since 2012. And Maercke adds: ‘We will continue to drive the sharing of good practices for higher recycling, as well as to increase awareness of sustainable packaging choices and inform environmental policy.’

Good practices

APEAL recently published a new report showcasing innovative steel recycling projects as well as systems and processes. The publication titled ‘Good Practices on Separate Collection, Sorting & Recycling of Steel for Packaging’ advocates creating a quality standard for steel packaging scrap.

Important factors also include better, more transparent verification and reporting of data via national recycling systems as well as intensified awareness campaigns to promote the success story of packaging made from recycled steel. ‘Increasing recycling requires a holistic approach,’ so concludes APEAL president Stéphane Tondo.

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