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Global steel can recycling rate reaches highest recorded level

The Brussels-based World Steel Association (worldsteel) recently announced that 7.2 million metric tons (mmt) of steel cans were recycled across the 37 countries reporting in 2007. The overall global recycling rate for steel cans was 68 percent in 2007, a slight increase from 67 percent in 2006. This is the highest level ever and is the third consecutive year that the steel can recycling rate has increased.

Amongst countries covered by the 2007 statistics, Belgium and Germany topped the list with the highest recycling rates of 93 and 91 percent, and of the individual countries that reported directly to worldsteel, Japan had the highest recycling rate at 85 percent. Europe, North America and South Africa have been particularly consistent in gathering good data and increasing recycling rates year after year. South Africa recorded a recycling rate of 70 percent in 2007, a 2 percent increase compared to 2006, and Europe recycled 2.5 mmt of steel cans in 2007, a rate of 69 percent. In the U.S. 1.6 mmt of steel cans were recovered for recycling in 2007, an increase to 65 percent compared to 63 percent the previous year.

“Our data shows that steel recycling is well established in almost all regions of the world,” says Julie Renner, chairwoman of worldsteel’s Committee on Packaging. “Not only is the recycling rate increasing in developed countries such as the U.S. and Canada, but it is also going up in emerging markets such as Brazil and Turkey. This is good for the environment because steel is 100 percent recyclable and it shows that consumers are contributing to the reduction of energy use and CO2 emissions by choosing and recycling steel packaging.”