Circular Economy in focus at Packaging Waste and Sustainability Forum

#25.03.2016 Circular Economy in focus at Packaging Waste and Sustainability Forum

I recently attended the 23rd annual Packaging Waste and Sustainability Forum here in Brussels, to take part in an interesting discussion event entitled “Fitting the circular economy into your business”.

With more than 80 key leaders from the packaging, waste and resource management industry attending, it was a great opportunity to take the temperature of feeling on the circular economy and spread APEAL’s message.

Discussion centred around what businesses across the industry are doing in order to reduce packaging waste levels and bring about greater sustainability. There was also discussion on the continuous drive to improve packaging design, functionality and marketing.

There was also an interesting discussion on the proposed new recycling targets within the package and their achievability.

I found it interesting that many speakers, especially from the public sector, recommended thinking outside the box in order to meet the recycling targets, advocating the need for radical action and new solutions to help meet them.

I tried to stress that before looking outside the box, we should look back inside it.

Have a look inside the steel box

In other words we must look at what is currently working well and what is not, when it comes to packaging and recycling, especially in the context of the circular economy.

With the Steel for Packaging industry leading the way with a recycling rate of over 75% in 2013, I urged other sectors to look at the way this has been achieved as an example of an increasingly circular economic model.

We can move much closer to sustainability without reinventing the wheel.

In fact, the European Environment Agency (EAA) used steel as the example of resource efficiency in its 2015 report, “The European environment — state and outlook 2015”, identifying numerous opportunities for improvements simply by following our lead.

It was great to hear that a number of speakers, myself included, also talked about the concept of permanent materials – materials that, once produced, can be recycled or reused without the loss of quality.

We touched on the increasing recognition of permanent materials in policy marking circles, because the concept of infinite recycling perfectly matches Europe’s vision for a circular economy.

Overall, the forum was a great opportunity to meet key influencers across the sector and increase awareness of the sustainable benefits of steel for packaging.

I will be attending further events throughout 2016 to continue to spread the word, the next being the Euro Cantech conference in Berlin in April.

If you plan to be there, please come and say hello.