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EU recorded a trade surplus in waste materials in 2020

Despite the pandemic, the total traded amounts in € of glass, paper and cardboard secondary waste materials didn’t change significantly between 2019 and 2020, while for plastic it dropped by almost 18%. These waste materials are collected for recycling and are then used in manufacturing instead or alongside ‘virgin’ raw materials.

In 2020, the EU market presented a trade surplus in plastic (+1 million tonnes) and paper (+4.2 million tonnes) materials, indicating a drain of secondary raw materials.

Exports of secondary plastic materials from the EU Member States to non-EU countries amounted to 1.5 million tonnes in 2020, while exports of glass materials amounted to 0.34 million tonnes and exports of secondary paper materials amounted to 6.7 million tonnes. Compared to 2019, they represented a 4%, 12%, and 16% increase, respectively.

Eurostat, 11 November 2021