Door-to-door collections helped EU countries recycle a record 2.3 million tonnes of steel in 2005, a packaging association claims.
Figures collected by the association of European producers of steel for packaging (APEAL) revealed an average recycling rate of 63 per cent, an increase of six per cent in recycled tonnage compared to 2004.The association is highlighting the increasing avenues open to steel recycling throughout the EU inan attempt to roll back the trend in the food and drink industry towards using plastic and othermaterials for product packaging.
EU laws set strict goals on recycling targets throughout thebloc, leading to regulatory pressure on processors to use more materials that do not eventually endup in landfill.
The results highlighted by APEAL also demonstrate the commitment by European countries to meet EU Directive 94/62/EC, which requires that 50 per cent of all metal packaging is recycled by member states by 2008. According toAPEAL, since 2002, steel has become the most recycled packaging material in the EU.
The association attributed the improvement in results to countries adopting door-to-door collections of multi-waste material as part of an integrated waste management system. Previously countries relied on deposit systems, but these were largely restricted to collecting beverage containers.
The magnetic properties of steel make sorting easier than other packaging materials. The improved collection systems, ensuring that more steel packaging is collected, are lowering the cost of using recycled steel for against othermaterials, said Philippe Wolper, APEAL's managing director
"In order to achieve a recycling society, EU laws should remain unequivocal about the environmental benefits of recycling and continue to support the efforts made by our industry to achieve high recyclingperformance," he stated.
For the first time this year, APEAL gathered recycling data from 30 countries, including the 25EU members as along with Romania, Bulgaria, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey.
APEAL expects that with annual growth of 3.4 per cent, recycling of steel packaging in the Europe will be 70 per cent by the end of 2008. The adoption into national law of the EU regulations banning landfilling of unprocessed waste and the additional 2008 EU recycling targets will supportobjective, the organisation stated.
Growing recycling rates are being achieved throughout Europe with steel recycling rates reaching up to 92 per cent in Belgium.
APEAL also reported progress in the Baltic countries, Poland and Slovakia. Lithuania improved steel recycling by 120 per cent, while Slovakia achieved an increase in 37 per cent on 2005 performance.
Other countries improving their recycled tonnage included the UK and Denmark, achieving between a ten and 15 per cent increase on previous year's results.
Spain, Finland and Italy achieved between five and ten percent increase in steel recycling. Austria, Ireland, Germany, Portugal, Switzerland and Hungary increased their recycling performance by up to five per cent.
European Union candidate Turkey recycled 34 per cent of metal packaging, exceeding the 30 per cent recycling target imposed by law.