APEAL welcomes Circular Economy Action Plan 2.0

Alexis Van Maercke

The Association of European Producers of Steel for Packaging (APEAL), has welcomed the recently published Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) 2.0.

To achieve the objectives of the European Green Deal, an ambitious CEAP is vital and the announcement 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.

Alexis Van Maercke, secretary general of APEAL, commented: “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.”

Design for recyclability

While most packaging material can be theoretically recycled, in practice, the recycling of some materials is fully mature whilst for other materials, ‘real’ recycling remains at an early stage.

“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”, continued Van Maercke.

“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.”

Improving separate collection

APEAL has also welcomed the European Commission’s ambition to harmonise separate collection of packaging waste streams in the EU.

Van Maercke said: “Separate collection is the best way of guaranteeing high-quality input into recycling operations. 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.”

An opportunity to phase out landfill of recyclable materials?

To fully close the loop, more needs to be done. Loopholes in the waste management process should be eliminated and APEAL says it 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.

Europe has demonstrated its global leadership with the publication of the CEAP 2.0 and APEAL says it is looking forward to working with the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Member States and all relevant stakeholders to deliver this ambitious plan.

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