Steel industry welcomes EU Circular Economy Package

euroferlogoBrussels, 7 December 2015 – The publication of the Circular Economy Package last week provided a clear opportunity to complete the circular economy in Europe. The package sets out the objectives, tools and methodologies that should be used to ensure that steel products can be efficiently produced, used, reused, recovered and recycled in a constant loop.

“Steel is a 100% recyclable; a ‘permanent’ material. This means that it is the key to the functioning of the circular economy” said Axel Eggert, Director General of the European Steel Association (EUROFER). “It is therefore important that the Circular Economy Package supports the use and recycling of steel and its by-products”.

“Having taken the time to analyse its contents, EUROFER welcomes the Package and is broadly pleased with the proposals as they stand,” highlighted Mr Eggert.

Positive measures include, amongst others:

  • the improvement of the text on ‘by-products’ that asks member states to recognise industrial co-generated products as ‘by-products’;
  • new measures encouraging the use of durable, resource-efficient and recyclable products in member states;
  • the promotion of sorting systems and high quality recycling where technically, environmentally and economically feasible;
  • new definitions for ‘final recycling’ and ‘backfilling’ have been introduced to better differentiate ‘recycling’ from ‘recovery’ operations.

Mr Eggert added, “However, while we welcome the overall Package, there are some elements which should be improved”.

Elements that should be further developed include:

  • the move from a ‘waste management’ to a genuine ‘resource management’ approach via the introduction of the concept of ‘permanent’ materials – previously recognised by the European Parliament – in the policy context. The concept of ‘permanent’ materials should also be recognised in a revised recycling definition;
  • proper recognition of ‘End-of-Life’ recycling metrics for metals (versus recycled content), because there is not presently enough scrap on the market to preclude the use of primary resources;
  • the setting of a specific recycling target for construction and demolition waste, as opposed to the currently combined re-use, recycling and backfilling target of 70%;
  • improve the definition of ‘municipal waste’, which is currently too broad. At the moment it could classify waste streams belonging to other sectors with different recycling chains as ‘municipal’.

“EUROFER looks forward to working further with European policy makers to ensure that the Circular Economy Package is implemented effectively, so that steel can contribute even further to building an efficient, clean and sustainable circular economy in Europe,” concluded Mr Eggert.

About steel and the Circular Economy

Steel is a 100% recyclable, ‘permanent’ material, which loses none of its unique properties when properly processed. The European steel industry works hard to ensure that the steel it produces can be reused, recovered, and recycled. It also ensures that steel production’s by-products, such as slags and process, gases are put to the best possible uses.

This EUROFER brochure provides recommendations to policy makers dealing with issues arising in the circular economy for the steel industry. It shows that steel can help mitigate CO2 emissions and help reduce product lifecycle emissions. Steel’s characteristic as a ‘permanent’ material means it can be easily reused and subsequently recycled in a constant loop.

To this end, the brochure proposes that the recycling definition in the EU’s waste legislation be adapted to properly meet the aspirations of the circular economy. Finally, it demonstrates the large degree to which steel production retains as much of the material created during steel production and is able to make use of its by-products.

The Steel and the Circular Economy brochure is available at:

About the European steel industry

The European steel industry is a world leader in innovation and environmental sustainability. It has a turnover of around €170 billion and directly employs 330,000 highly-skilled people, producing on average 170 million tonnes of steel per year. More than 500 steel production sites across 24 EU Member States provide direct and indirect employment to millions more European citizens. Closely integrated with Europe’s manufacturing and construction industries, steel is the backbone for development, growth and employment in Europe.

Steel is the most versatile industrial material in the world. The thousands of different grades and types of steel developed by the industry make the modern world possible. Steel is 100% recyclable and therefore is a fundamental part of the circular economy. As a basic engineering material, steel is also an essential factor in the development and deployment of innovative, CO2-mitigating technologies, improving resource efficiency and fostering sustainable development in Europe.