Recycling of steel packaging increases across Europe

An increasing number of countries are sorting and recycling their steel packaging, with considerable progress being shown throughout southern Europe and Scandinavia, says a European industry body.

According to the Association of European Producers of Steel for Packaging (APEAL), last year saw a marked increase in the levels of recycled steel food, beverage and aerosol cans in most European Union countries. Also included in the figures are certain paint cans, some containers for chemicals, and speciality packaging such as gift packaging.

Recent advances in Finland and Italy have allowed the nations to collect data on their recycling systems, leading to them being included in APEAL’s calculations for 1999, Jean-Pierre Taverne, APEAL’s Recycling and Standardisation Manager, explained to edie. According to Taverne, this has lead to a slight anomaly in the total figures for Europe, bringing the percentage of steel packaging recycled down from 51% to 47%.

Since the implementation of the European Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, most Member States have been quick to implement infrastructures for the collection and sorting of packaging for recycling, says Taverne. Germany, the Netherlands and Austria all recycle between 75% and 80% of their steel packaging, with Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and Sweden recycling between 62% and 70%. France, Spain and the UK all fall between the 30 to 47% mark for steel, whilst in Norway a voluntary multi-material collection system set up in 1999 has lead to 54% metal packaging recycling in just one year.

Finland recycles 16% of its steel packaging, and although Italy currently only recycles 10%, the country is set to reach 50% by 2002.

Denmark, Ireland and Greece have still to implement systems, though Ireland’s will be up and running by 2001, and Portugal will probably be able to begin reporting on their new system next year, says Taverne, and will show a predicted steel packaging recycling rate of 15% by the end of the year.

“Steel packaging recycling in Europe reached 47% in 1999. Large variations exist and will continue to exist at national level,” said Taverne. “However, it is encouraging to note that countries where the collection infrastructure was not very developed are making considerable efforts to achieve the 15% minimum levels required by July 2001 by the European Directive.”

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie