New recycling record confirmed by Steel for Packaging Europe

Graphic: Steel for Packaging Europe

Steel for Packaging Europe, formerly known as APEAL, has confirmed a new record recycling rate for steel packaging, following the harmonised method for calculating packaging recycling rates within the EU.

Independently verified figures published by Steel for Packaging Europe confirm 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.

This announcement also represents a 2% increase on the 2021 recycling rate and confirms steel packaging remains the most widely recycled sales packaging material in Europe, which is testament to its unique properties and the collaborative efforts of stakeholders across the value chain towards reaching a 100% closed material loop.

Steve Claus, Steel for Packaging Europe’s secretary general, said: “Steel packaging’s ever-increasing recycling rates reflect the industry’s commitment to transparency and demonstrate why steel packaging is so well aligned with the EU’s vision for a circular economy.

“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 harmonised 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.”

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

Claus added: “I am particularly pleased that the new PPWR includes the establishment of design for recycling criteria, applicable to all packaging, and the introduction of a performance grading system with clear criteria.

“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.”

As the PPWR implementation and secondary legislation take center stage in the coming months, Steel for Packaging Europe urges all EU institutions to maintain high levels of ambition to collectively build a greener, more circular future in Europe.

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