Separate collection of household packaging waste is the second step towards a real recycling dynamic

#23.10.2018 Separate collection of household packaging waste is the second step towards a real recycling dynamic

By Alexis Van Maercke

In order to prevent steel packaging from being sent to landfill and to ensure the incineration of non-treated waste is regulated, APEAL believes source separation and separate packaging waste collection should be encouraged.

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, separate collection of lightweight packaging has many advantages and the unique magnetic properties of steel make it the easiest and most economical packaging material to recover and recycle over and over again.

The best collection system for individual countries will vary from one region to another and even at municipal levels, one of the principle factors taken into consideration being the density of the population.

APEAL’s new recycling report highlights the case of Fostplus, who organise the separate collection of packaging waste in Belgium. Belgium and in particular Brussels, has an average population density of 370.3hab/km2, which is ideal for a door-to-door system. Less densely populated regions may benefit from bring points – points in which a series of containers are located for consumers to bring their used packaging to.

Whatever system is used, clarity about what can and cannot be recycled is extremely important to ensure that householders engage with the process and that the quality of the materials received at the sorting plant is as high as possible.

Fostplus for instance has a specific set of rules relating to the use of its blue dry recyclables bag that tell householders exactly what types of packaging waste can be placed in that waste stream. These include metal packaging, plastic bottles and flasks and drinks cartons. And let‘s remember that Belgium has one of the highest recycling rates in Europe, 95% of metal packaging was recycled in 2016!

Whilst various Deposit Return Schemes (DRS) are in place across Europe their scope is restricted to beverage packaging only which represents a very small fraction of total packaging waste. For this reason, DRS cannot be the solution to increase recycling rates for complete material fractions.

Even if other collection routes can be used, for example steel can be recovered from bottom ash after incineration, source separation and separate packaging waste collection remain the option that provides best quality material.

Launched at the Steel for Packaging, a Pioneer of Circular Economy Brussels event involving representatives from the European Parliament, the European Commission, Member States and Regions, APEAL’s report: Good Practices on Separate collection, Sorting and Recycling of Steel for Packaging, has been compiled using examples of good practice from countries across the EU.

Showcasing the varied projects, systems and processes by which steel packaging is recycled the report provides detailed information for organisations and individuals wishing to learn more about a real and successful material recycling story and aiming to play a meaningful role in the drive to increase recycling and achieve a more circular economy.

Obtain the full report here