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steel recycling rate remains flat

15th May 2014

The Association of European Producers of Steel for Packaging (APEAL) have released figures which indicate that Europe’s steel recycling rates in 2012 remained unchanged from the previous year. The figures, which are the most recent ones available, were independently reviewed and confirmed by waste consultancy Eunomia and revealed that steel recycling rates for 2012 were at 74%, mirroring figures from 2011. This amounts to around 2.7 million tonnes of recycled steel, indicating that the material is the most commonly recycled packaging material in the continent.

Simple steel recycling

APEAL acknowledged that the high rates of recycled steel are due to the materials infinite recyclability, ease of recovery, simplicity and producers’ greater understanding of the benefits of recycling. In comparison, the statistics for steel are much higher than other recyclable materials, with figures showing that on average, Europe recycles 70% of glass, 68% of aluminium and 35% of plastics. The popularity of steel benefits in many ways; As APEAL pointed out, a tonne of recycled steel can save more than a half times its weight in carbon emissions, double its weight in raw materials and uses 70% less energy than producing virgin steel would.

Steel recycling targets

Alexander Mohr, secretary general of APEAL, commented: “These figures evidence a continued dedication to the recycling of steel packaging and just how big an impact it can have in driving up rates.’’ Discussing future recycling targets, the secretary general ensured that although there is work to be done, he believes they are attainable. “While steel maintains its position as the most recycled packaging material in Europe, it is clear there is still some work to be done in order for the industry to hit its vision of 80% recycling rate by 2020. APEAL has no doubt that these targets will be achieved especially when you consider that the top five recycling countries in Europe already have an average steel recycling rate of 90%.”

PRN uncertainty

Despite European success, steel PRNs are still a cause for concern in the UK. This came after Q1 packaging recycling data, which was released by the EA last month, suggested a steel recycling shortage for 2014. This revelation has caused steel PRNS, which are currently trading at around £15 a tonne, to be potentially subject to further inflation. Originally, the decrease in tonnage was said to be a consequence of a lack of resources available making it harder to send material overseas. However, letsrecycle.com reported that one PRN trader informed them: “This is more to do with the domestic market – a couple of large companies have not been buying the material as they look to run down their own stockpiles in order to provide shareholders with a positive report at the end of the financial year.’’

For more information regarding the packaging compliance or PRNs please get in touch with Comply Direct’s packaging compliance team.

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