In 2021, exports of waste from the EU to non-EU countries reached 33.0 million tonnes, an increase of 77% since 2004. Imports of waste from non-EU countries increased by 11% since 2004, amounting to 19.7 million tonnes in 2021.
Turkey: main destination for EU’s waste exports
Turkey is the largest destination for waste exported from the EU, with a volume of around 14.7 million tonnes in 2021 – more than three times as much as in 2004 and almost half of the total exports of waste. The second largest destination was India, which received almost 2.4 million tonnes of waste from the EU in 2021, followed by Egypt (1.9 Million tonnes), Switzerland (1.7 million tonnes), United Kingdom (1.5 million tonnes), Norway (1.4 million tonnes), Pakistan (1.3 million tonnes), Indonesia (1.1 million tonnes), United States (0.9 million tonnes) and Morocco (0.6 million tonnes).
In recent years, Pakistan has markedly grown as a destination for EU waste, with volumes increasing from 0.1 million tonnes in 2004 to 1.3 million tonnes in 2021. In sharp contrast, EU exports of waste to China have fallen from a peak of 10.1 million tonnes in 2009 to 0.4 million tonnes in 2021.
Ferrous metals waste accounts for half of all waste exports from the EU
In 2021, exports of ferrous metals waste (iron and steel) amounted to 19.5 million tonnes, accounting for more than half (59 %) of all waste exports from the EU. The main destination was Turkey which received 13.1 million tonnes, around two thirds (67%) of all ferrous metal waste exported from the EU. Moreover, the EU imported 5.5 million tonnes of ferrous metal waste, with almost a third (32 %) coming from the United Kingdom.
Although at a far lower level, considerable amounts of paper waste were also exported from the EU. The 4.4 million tonnes exported accounted for 13 % of the EU’s waste exports in 2021. India was the major destination of paper waste, receiving 1.2 million tonnes (26 %), followed by Indonesia (0.9 million tonnes or 22 %) and Turkey (0.4 million tonnes or 10 %).
However, there were also 2.4 million tonnes of paper waste imported to the EU, with the largest amount (1 million tonnes or 42 %) arriving from the United Kingdom.
For more information:
- The scope of ‘waste’ is measured in terms of relevant product codes from the Combined Nomenclature used in International Trade in Goods Statistics.
- Data on trade with the United Kingdom are not fully comparable with data on trade with other extra-EU trade partners. The United Kingdom is considered an extra-EU partner country for the EU for the whole period covered by this article. However, until 31 December 2020, the goods imported by the EU from the United Kingdom were physically transported from the United Kingdom but part of these goods could have been of another origin than the United Kingdom. For this reason, imports from the UK may be overestimated.