ArcelorMittal’s involvement ensures all available post-consumer packaging scrap is recycled
Steel is one the most recycled packaging materials in Europe with recycling rates hitting an all-time high of 82.5 percent in 2018. Its excellent recycling performance is largely due to the ease with which steel can be separated from other materials and the value of the steel to producers such as ArcelorMittal. Post-consumer packaging steel is collected by local authorities and sorted in dedicated packaging recovery centres where the steel is separated from other materials using a magnet.
However, the recycling process actually begins much earlier when the consumer chooses how they will dispose of the used packaging. Communication is essential to ensure they make the correct decision.
To improve the quality and quantity of steel scrap, ArcelorMittal plays an active role in the French waste recycling system. We work directly with municipalities and their waste collectors, national authorities, and steel packaging associations to enhance recycling at the point of collection and in sorting centres.
“As a recycler, ArcelorMittal guarantees that they will utilise the steel packaging that local authorities collect and sort,” says Sophie Génier, recycling director at Citeo. “ArcelorMittal monitors the quality of the recycled material produced by the sorting centres and works with us to define ways we can increase the collection, sorting, and recycling of steel packaging in France.”
Guide developed for sorting centres
To increase the quantity of material available for recycling, and improve scrap quality, ArcelorMittal also works directly with sorting centres. “Together with Ademe and Citeo, ArcelorMittal developed a guide to sorting steel packaging,” says Catherine Jung, environment and recycling manager for ArcelorMittal France.
“Published in June 2018, the guide has been widely distributed to all interested organisations and sorting centres. In France, ArcelorMittal is now consulted on the design of new sorting centres and improvements to existing facilities. ArcelorMittal also acts as a technical expert for sorting centres that have problems producing scrap to the level of quality we need. That enables us to recommend equipment and/or process improvements to create a very positive outcome for the centre and ArcelorMittal.”
A recommendation from the guide to adjust the overband in longitudinal position instead of perpendicular
Working together with sorting centre operators, ArcelorMittal is able to audit the quality of the packaging steel in their facility. “We can also help them correctly identify the right scrap category so the steel plant knows what they are receiving,” notes Catherine Jung. “Scrap quality and traceability are essential for steel plants. If the scrap quality is not at the level expected, the load must go through an additional treatment to clean organic residues from the scrap. In these cases the Packaging Recycling team contacts the municipalities and sorting centres to discuss improvements which should be implemented.”
Direct involvement in packaging scrap recycling
A key focus for the future will be on consumer recycling of steels for packaging. “The role of the consumer is essential,” notes Claudie Mathieu, chief executive manager of SNFBM. “If they systematically apply the right sorting techniques, they will help to significantly increase the collection rate and recycling of steel packaging.”
Communication directly with consumers is vital to ensure steel packaging does not end up in landfill. In France, ArcelorMittal has worked with Citeo to explain the process and benefits of recycling steel packaging to consumers through a video which is available on YouTube.
The industry also needs to emphasise the benefits of steel including its infinite recyclability and role in helping Europe achieve its circular economy goals. Claudie Mathieu explains: “ArcelorMittal’s involvement gives us a real advantage in exchanges with our members and the various stakeholders who we address together. Their participation in the development of argumentations shows that the steel packaging industry speaks with one voice.”
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