The European Commission aims to reduce scrap shipments from Europe through a new circular economy plan. In response to this, the European steel association Eurofer has asked the commission to incentivize the local consumption of steel scrap.
As a steppingstone to the European Green Deal, the EU has adopted the Circular Economy Action Plan 2020 to accelerate the industry’s transition to more sustainable modes of production. EU plans to turn into a carbon-neutral continent by 2050. Steelmakers in the region appreciate the initiatives taken up these policy reforms but rues the resultant increase in the cost of production. As discussed by Davis Index, the Green deal will increase the European steelmakers’ cost of steel production by at least 35pc.
Steelmakers have demanded strict measures and quality guidelines in the form of border adjustment to reduce the consumption of low-cost imported steel and create a market for carbon-neutral products. To offset the impact of low-cost, high-carbon imports of steel and other products, Europe commission’s action plan proposes a policy for minimum mandatory green public procurement (GPP) by 2021. This will increase the consumption of carbon neutral steel products and help producers invest in building carbon-neutral production facilities.
Reacting to the Circular Economy Action Plan, Eurofer said that the commission fails to incentivise steelmakers from exporting valuable steel scrap to buyers outside Europe, which in-turn defeats the purpose of EU’s circularity and climate-neutrality objectives.
Eurofer fully supports the development of secondary raw materials market in Europe and EU’s action to address waste export from Europe, said Axel Eggert, head of Eurofer. Over 90pc of steel scrap generated in the EU is recycled. However, the EU-based steelmakers exports millions of tons of steel scrap every year, so there should be incentives to keep this circular materials within the EU region, said Eggert.
Circular Economy Action Plan
The Circular Economy Action Plan has prioritized steel recycling under high impact intermediary products. Here are the key proposals that could impact the recycling industry:
* EU proposes rules to revise guidelines for end-of-life vehicles to include mandatory recycling of certain components and improve recycling efficiency by 2021.
* The commission plans to incentivise producers to retain the ownership of their products through its lifecycle. This proposed product-as-a-service solutions will reduce the consumption of virgin material and promote better recycling of end-of-life vehicles.
* The plan considers revision of material recovery targets for construction and demolition waste.
* Effective waste collection and separation through harmonised waste collection systems.
* Making secondary raw material competitive against primary raw material in terms of availability, performance and cost to ensure expansion of the recycling sector in the EU. The commission plans to address the supply / demand mismatch for secondary raw materials by promoting the use of recycled by-product material. The plan proposes to check the possibility of establishing a market observatory for key secondary materials.
* A monitoring framework for tracking the circular economy with new indicators is also proposed. The plan focuses on providing data interlinkages between climate neutrality, zero pollution and circularity. The indicators include resource use, material footprint, consumption and environmental impact of production.
* EU plans new regulatory framework for batteries this year to ensure the recovery of valuable materials from used batteries. Emphasis will also be on phasing out of non-rechargeable batteries and transparency around carbon footprint of battery makers, sourcing of raw materials, facilitating reuse and recycling.
Recycle in EU, reduce waste exports
European Commission has recognised waste exports as loss of resources and economic opportunities for the recycling industry in the EU region. The commission aims to reduce EU’s dependence on other countries for waste treatment while mobilising the recycling industry in Europe. The revised policy on waste shipments is expected in 2021. The commission has expressed concern about illegal shipments of waste and plans to enforce counteracting measure to stop such exports.