Investment in Infrastructure Needed & Improved Measurements

Cautious Welcome for Circular Economy Package Progress from Steel Industry

EU steel industry representatives welcomed a balanced Circular Economy Package following the progress made during Trilogue discussions yesterday.

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Following over two years of discussion, the European institutions have agreed, in principle, on a reform of EU waste rules.

The Association of European Producers of Steel for Packaging (APEAL) has welcomed the announcement of a balanced Circular Economy Package, following the progress made during the last Trilogue discussions yesterday.

The association said that even if the final compromise still has to be formally adopted by the European Parliament and confirmed under the Bulgarian presidency, it welcomes the general principles from the EU Institutions to place the measurement point of recycling as close as possible to real recycling.

With 77.5% recycled in 2015, the organisation said that steel is ideally positioned as the model packaging material for a circular economy and the new steel targets clearly reflect this.

Even if the agreed targets for all materials are an important step forward, APEAL feels that the Member States could have shown more ambition during the final Trilogue. The last-minute introduction of a flexibility mechanism for Member States to perform lower in one or two packaging materials of their choice weakens the deal.

The association also noted that the parliament has continued to endorse “multiple recycling” and that this is reflected in the final text. Through multiple recycling, products and packaging made from permanent materials, such as steel, are kept in the material loop and can become resources for other products and packaging.

The retenital of the ‘internal market’ legal base of the Packaging and Packaging Waste framework Directive was also welcomed. 

APEAL, along with a large number of national and EU industries had repeatedly called for the safeguarding of the Internal market and the free circulation of packaging and packaged goods in order to avoid differences in interpretation or implementation.

To reach the objective of a truly circular economy in Europe, and reap the full environmental and economic benefits of recycling, APEAL now urges Member States to invest in the necessary infrastructure so that the recycling targets can be met for all packaging materials.

“The switch from a linear to circular economy is a concept that is supported globally by our industry and as an advanced industrial sector we wholly support this paradigm shift,” said Alexis Van Maercke, secretary general of APEAL.

Need to Measure Real Recycling Rate
The European Steel Association (EUROFER) also welcomed the agreement, but highlighted the need to measure the true recycling rate.

Currently measurements are taken at the waste collection stage, which generates significant losses later on in the recycling value chain. This means there has been a need for targets for ‘real’ recycling that correctly measure how much material is really recovered from waste and actually reprocessed.

“The agreement, yesterday, by the EU institutions has tried to consolidate this transition from collection point measurement to the assessment of real recycling”, said Axel Eggert, director general of the European Steel Association.

“The agreement reached by the European Parliament and Council is a step forward because it proposes a methodology measuring recycling rates when waste materials are reprocessed into new products – we cannot accept that recyclable material is lost on the way to final recycling in steel production facilities,“ added Eggert.

“However, the proposal only goes part of the way towards accurate, harmonised measurement of real recycling because a derogation allows member states to declare material as ‘recycled’ even after an early waste sorting stage. This will give vastly different results than measuring recycling at the stage of reprocessing into new products,” he continued.

“This outcome means that, despite the welcome ambition shown by the member states, the legislation will remain incomplete and will allow for disparate recycling rates between the member states. The role of the Commission will be even more important during the implementation phase in ensuring greater harmonisation and reducing data gaps, tasks which are in the interest of all the member states,“ Eggert concluded.

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