SPE 28.06.24

Steel for Packaging Europe (formerly APEAL) has confirmed a new record recycling rate of 80.5% for steel packaging, following the harmonized method for calculating packaging recycling rates within the EU.

Independently verified figures published by Steel for Packaging Europe state that 80.5% of steel packaging placed on the market was ‘really recycled’ in 2022. It follows the announcement in December 2023 that steel packaging had met its EU recycling rate target for 2025, four years ahead of schedule. 

The announcement also represents a 2% increase on the 2021 recycling rate. The Association says steel packaging remains the most widely recycled sales packaging material in Europe, due to its ‘unique’ properties and the efforts of stakeholders across the value chain towards reaching a 100% closed material loop. 

Steve Claus, secretary general for Steel for Packaging Europe, said: “I am proud that the newly published figures correspond to the amount of packaging that is actually recycled at the entrance of recycling operations and not merely the packaging which is collected. This harmonized method for calculating packaging recycling rates creates a level playing field for all packaging materials in Europe. Previously, EU member states used varying methods to determine recycling rates for different materials, leading to inflated rates and obscuring the recycling challenges associated with some packaging formats.” 

SPE data 28.06.24

The announcement comes in the wake of the formal adoption of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) voted by the European Parliament (EP) which includes a range of stricter recyclability measures. 

Claus added: “The three grades of defined recyclability percentages – A, B, C (95%/80%/70%) to comply with by 2030 and two – A, B (95%/80%) by 2038, will ultimately drive any material that is less than 80% recyclable from the market. Steel packaging, with all formats graded A or B, demonstrates a superior performance compared to other materials such as plastics and laminated cartons.” 

In 2023, we heard from the Association’s president Luc Brantjes about the outlook for the steel packaging market and how it is working towards enhanced sustainability. He highlighted the association’s recommendations to improve steel recycling, including optimized separate collection; a second overband in sorting plants to ensure that recyclable caps, lids, and closures are not sent to landfill, and consumer involvement. 

In March this year, we reported on the packaging industry’s praise and concerns surrounding the provisional agreement between the European Parliament and Council on the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation. Action against ‘forever chemicals’ and eventual reviews of biobased plastic content was praised, while criticisms included the removal of reuse targets for takeaway food and lobbying for single-use paper. 

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