European steel can recycling rebounds in 1999

Industry statistics show increase in recycling performance, data covers more countries

European recycling of steel packaging - essentially drinks cans - rose in 1999 after dipping in 1998, according to figures from the Association of European Producers of Steel for Packaging (Apeal). The statistics have been extended from nine to 11 EU members, and also to non-EU countries Norway and Switzerland (see table below). For the nine EU countries that reported in both years, average recycling rose nearly 6% over 1998 levels (ENDS Daily 13 October 1999).

The highlight of the 1999 figures is a massive year-on-year increase in Luxembourg's recycling rate, from 10-70%. The rise was entirely due to installation of a single magnetic separation unit at Luxembourg's main municipal waste incinerator, according to Jean-Pierre Taverne of Apeal.

Spain and the UK, both near the bottom of the league table, also showed strong improvements. The only significant fall was recorded in Sweden. Mr Taverne stressed that this was due to an increase in consumption in 1999, while recycled tonnage had remained roughly level.

Finland and Italy reported reliable steel can recycling figures for the first time in 1999. Only Italy currently recycles less than the minimum 15% that will be required for each main packaging material by next July under the 1994 EU packaging directive. However, Apeal predicts that the country will increase its recycling rate to around 50% by 2002, thus comfortably meeting the target.

European steel packaging recycling 1998-99 (%)
                    1998       1999     % change
Germany              81         80        -1.2    
Netherlands          78*        78         0      
Austria              70         75         7.1
Belgium              64         70         9.4
Luxembourg           10         69       590
Switzerland          63         66         4.8
Sweden               71         62       -12.7
Norway               --         59         -
France               47         47         0
Spain                25*        32        28
UK                   25         30        20
Finland              --         16         -
Italy                --          9.5       -
EU-11 average        --         47         -
EU-9 average         51         54         5.9
Source:  Apeal.  * = Germany revised from 84%,
Netherlands from 75%, Spain from 26%.  N.b. data
for Netherlands, Finland, Luxembourg & Belgium
is for all metal cans.
Follow Up:
Apeal, tel: +32 2 537 9151.

Correction - 19/9/00 Above we wrongly described steel packaging as "essentially drinks cans". According to EU trade association Apeal, these in fact account only for 20% of steel packaging. About 50% is food cans and the remaining 30% is made up of paint cans, cans for chemicals and specialist applications.

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