EU Exports of Recyclable Materials have declined over the Past Decade

tendata blogTrade Trends News

ten data blog15-11-2023

In 2022, the EU exported 6.4 million tons of recyclable products (paper, plastic and glass) to countries outside the EU, an increase of 8.4% compared to 2021. On the other hand, imports amounted to 4 million tons, an increase of 4.2% compared to 2021.


Compared to 2010, the total volume of recyclable products exported to countries outside the EU decreased by more than a third (-35.2%, from 98,000 tons to 6.4 million tons). Total imports increased by 23.9%, from 32,000 tons to 4 million tons.


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Recyclable paper is the most exported and imported product

In terms of exports, paper was the most exported recyclable product outside the EU in 2022, accounting for more than three-quarters of exports (77.1% and 4.9 million tons), followed by plastics (17.5% and 1.1 million tons) and glass (5.4% and 300,000 tons).


In the same year, 2.4 million tons of paper were imported, accounting for more than half (59.3%) of all recyclable products imported from outside the EU. The second largest category was plastics (20.6% and 0.8 million tons), followed by glass (20.1% and 0.8 million tons).



India, Turkey and the UK: main export destinations in 2022

India is the largest destination for EU recyclable paper exports in 2022 (29% of total paper exports outside the EU), followed by Indonesia (19%) and Turkey (12%).


Turkey is the largest destination for recyclable plastics exports (29% of total plastics exports outside the EU), followed by Indonesia (17%) and Malaysia (15%).


In 2022, recyclable glass is mainly exported to the UK (46% of total glass exports outside the EU), followed by Switzerland (11%) and Brazil (9%).



UK: largest supplier of recyclable products in the EU

Imports of recyclable products from outside the EU come mainly from the UK, accounting for 47% of total paper imports, 45% of total plastics imports and 47% of total glass imports.

The second largest supplier of recyclable paper is the USA (20% of paper imports outside the EU), followed by Switzerland (14%). Imports of recyclable plastics also come from the USA (8%), followed by Norway (7%). The second largest supplier of recyclable glass is Switzerland (14%), followed by Norway (9%).




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