What’s the Apeal?
What is your background within the metal packaging industry?
Before joining APEAL, I held the position of policy officer at the European Commission, director general internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs.
In a separate role with the European Commission, I worked in the resource efficiency and raw materials unit, with overall responsibility for the list of critical raw materials for the EU and its policy related aspects to the department responsible for the EU steel policy. In this role I was involved in drafting the proposal for the Circular Economy Package (CEP).
Prior to this I spent five years in the European Parliament as political advisor to Marianne Thyssen MEP, the current commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, where I was in charge of legislative files related to food safety, environment and consumer protection. In addition, I formed part of the European Parliament’s environment committee, dealing with matters relating to food labelling and packaging materials such as steel, which have direct or indirect contact with food products.
It’s been around a year since the EC Circular Economy Package (CEP) – how has this been received by the industry?
The switch from a linear to circular economy is a concept that is supported globally by our industry and as an advanced industrial sector we wholly support this paradigm shift.
Implementing the CEP as soon as possible will bring numerous benefits, specifically a harmonised EU approach, greater legal certainty and a more viable internal market for waste.
Are we on course for 80 per cent recycling for packaged steel by 2020?
The simple answer is yes.
The latest EU steel packaging recycling rate is 76 per cent and this record rate, which represents data from 2014, confirms steel as Europe’s most recycled packaging material for the tenth consecutive year. It also shows the recycling rate of steel packaging pulling further away from that of other packaging materials.
The industry’s proactive approach to drive packaging material choice and environmental policy has been paramount in getting us to this point. We remain on track to meet our internal objective of 80 per cent recycling for steel packaging by 2020, but it is vital that we continue to measure the real recycling rate – in other words, the recovered steel material that is actually sent to the recycling plant, and recovered from the bottom ashes after incineration.
Your predecessor said to CanTech back in February 2016 that there are some countries within the EU that still have relatively low recycling rates – is this the same 12 months on?
It is true that there remain noticeable differences in the recycling rates between member states with some performing under the average. Significantly this is not peculiar to Central and Eastern Europe.
I am confident that swift implementation of the CEP will be a key driver for change across the continent and beyond and help to increase recycling rates specifically in these countries. Meanwhile, Apeal continues to work effectively to raise awareness of best practices in steel recycling throughout the EU.
Is Apeal feeling the impact of Brexit at all?
We are following the discussion between the EU and the UK and are waiting for Article 50, but at this stage it is too early to assess any potential impact.
How is the depth of anti EU feeling in Europe impacting on the organisation?
EU-sceptical groups continue to challenge the effective functioning of the European Parliament and anti-EU sentiment is certainly something which I encounter while fulfilling the public affairs remit of my role at Apeal. But the real challenges facing the sector remain unchanged and Apeal’s members, all four of which have an international presence, continue to work cohesively and with deliberate focus to achieve our objectives.
It is important to remember that steel packaging has a major role to play in the push for food security and reducing the volume of food waste as well as protecting our natural resources – by working together and sharing best practice, Europe’s political bodies together with industry, will achieve individual and collective objectives more quickly.
What are your ambitions for the role?
Apeal has come to benefit from a strong reputation as the reference of steel for packaging in Europe and I am determined to ensure this is used to the greatest effect.
Continuity is a key theme for my role as secretary general; communication with regional and national authorities must be maintained and we must continue to monitor the CEP legislation and, of course, its follow up. Work will not finish once the vote has been made, implementation of the legislation will be of equal importance too.
I am also determined to build on the work that has already been done to increase awareness of the importance of reducing food waste – Apeal has a huge role to play in many areas and driving full recognition of steel for packaging as the model material for a circular economy remains my long term ambition for the role.
Does Apeal have anything exciting planned for 2017 that you can share with us?
The year ahead will certainly see some exciting developments for our industry with the next key step for the CEP being the environment committee vote on 24 January. Apeal will of course, continue its work to facilitate the reduction of food waste and drive recycling best practice, working to raise awareness and understanding of steel as a model material for circular economy.
Do you have any visits to trade shows planned?
Apeal will be attending Interpack 2017, so please do come along and say hello – I would be delighted to discuss the organisation’s work and the challenges ahead this year.