Packaging steel manufacturers welcome EU’s Circular Economy Action plan 2.0

A call for measures that speed up the elimination of recyclable packaging such as metal cans going to landfill has been made by the body that represents manufacturers of packaging steels in Europe, Apeal.

Welcoming today’s publication of the Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) 2.0, Alexis Van Maercke, secretary general of Apeal, said: “Whilst we are pleased that CEAP 2.0 focuses upon several key issues including design for recyclability and improving separate collection for high-quality recycling processes, we would have liked to see measures to speed up elimination of landfill of recyclable materials.”

To achieve the objectives of the European Green Deal, an ambitious CEAP is vital and marks an important step by the European Commission to draw a final line under the linear economy and establish clear priorities for the packaging sector, said Apeal.

While the recycling rate of some packaging materials, such as metal cans, is high, others are only at an early stage, it added.

Van Maercke continued: “The EU sustainable products policy should promote packaging design that allows materials to be recycled over and over again while also allowing life cycle assessments to factor in more environmental issues, such as marine litter and deforestation.

“As the Circular Economy Package stipulates, high-quality recycling creates real market demand for recycled material. A key factor in the drive to increase the total amount of recycled packaging is therefore to reduce the complexity of packaging, particularly multi-material formats that can contain up to seven different layers.”

An ambition by the EU to harmonise the separate collection of packaging waste streams in the EU, has also been welcomed.

“Separate collection is the best way of guaranteeing high-quality input into recycling operations,” said Van Maercke. “And in the case of steel packaging, an input of steel scrap is a necessary component for making new steel at any one of the more than 500 steel plants in Europe.”

Apeal’s report, Good Practices on Separate collection, Sorting and Recycling of Steel for Packaging gives more information about the varied projects, systems and processes by which steel packaging is recycled.

“At the same time, Apeal urges the European Commission to continue supporting Member States that are at risk of not reaching EU recycling targets for 2020 and 2025. Important efforts under the previous European Commission included the so-called Virtuous Missions, and we would welcome that this initiative be pursued.”

But to fully close the loop more must be done, said Apeal. Loopholes in the waste management process should be eliminated and Apeal would support a more ambitious approach to phasing out the landfill of recyclable resources. “Steel scrap is simply too valuable to end up in landfill” said Van Maercke.