Inside Brussels – Alexis Van Maercke on steel for packaging in EU policy discussions

Great news about steel packaging recycling! But there can be no doubt that policy decisions over the next few years will be critical in the drive to achieve our “zero steel packaging to landfill by 2025” vision, the Green Deal and ultimately a circular economy.

With 85,5%, steel packaging remains the most recycled packaging material across Europe in 2020

With 85,5% average across Europe, steel packaging recycling has reached new heights once again! A number of countries already delivered their recycling figures according to the new EU recycling rate calculation methodology. This methodology guarantees that only the accepted tonnages at the entrance of the recycling operations are calculated as the recycled tonnages. Consequently, reporting collected or sorted tonnages as recycled tonnages will no longer be accepted. This creates a level playing field, not only for the MS, but also for the packaging materials as only real recycling will be reported. Mandatory use of the new rules is from 2020 data onwards, to be reported by June 2022 the latest, however several countries will only be able to apply these new rules from next year onwards. 2020 is therefore to be considered as a transition year, but we are confident that steel continues to lead materials across Europe.

Our figures have been once again independently validated by the energy and waste specialist consultancy Eunomia.

Read our press release here.

It is clear that while recycling is essential, not all forms of recycling are of equal benefit. Which is why APEAL continues to actively promote the use of permanent materials such as steel that recycle forever as well as advocate for no recyclable packaging to landfill, one of the key policy recommendations in our recent recycling report launched at our recent event in Brussels.

Zero steel packaging to landfill by 2025

The EU Green deal has highlighted the importance of embracing a resource efficient future and proposed objectives to ensure that materials circulated in the economy for as long as possible. Earlier this year, at our event “Vision to reality; closing the loop on steel packaging recycling” Commissioner Sinkevičius and several other invitees endorsed our vision of zero Steel for Packaging to Landfill by 2025.

Key to helping us achieve this vision will be the 2022 review of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD) and the 2023 review of the overarching Waste Framework Directive (WFD), as well as a review of the Landfill Directive (LFD) in 2023 or 2024.

Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD) or Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR)?

Latest indications are that if internally validated, the European Commission will propose – for the provisions that are under a review – a Regulation instead of Directive, meaning a binding legislative act to be applied in its entirety across the EU with direct effect. The release of the proposal for a reviewed PPWD  will likely be in Autumn 2022. Read more APEAL’s position on the PPWD in our position paper here.

Waste Frame directive (WFD

In January this year, the European Commission launched a call for evidence for an Impact Assessment to support a revision of the Waste Framework Directive (WFD). The Commission’s proposal for the revision of the Waste Framework Directive, is expected to be published in Q2 2023.

This review will also address waste prevention, separate collection, waste oils and textiles. APEAL fully support this review and you can read more about our position in our paper here