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EU recovered paper exports fall to lowest level since 2003

Baled old corrugated containers
Exports from the EU to third countries have fallen
by nearly half over the last four years.
17.09.2021 − 

The downward trend in European Union exports of recovered paper continues unbroken. In the first half of this year, shipments from member states to third countries hit their lowest level in 18 years. The accelerated decline observed over the last four years can be explained by two major factors: China's tightened import regulations and the outbreak of the Corona pandemic with the ensuing impact on trade and economic activity.

According to the export figures published this week by Eurostat, exports of recovered paper from the 27 member states of the EU to countries outside the single market totalled 2.28 million tonnes in the first six months of 2021. This is only slightly more than half the export volume of 4.04 million tonnes reported for the first half of 2017. The main reason for this substantial decline was China's plunging demand for imports. Until a few years ago, China was by far the most important buyer of European recovered paper, but the stricter import regulations implemented with the "Green Fence" and the "National Sword Initiative" led to a drastic reduction in EU exports to China and ultimately to a phase out of recovered paper imports at the start of 2021.

The effect of China's dwindling imports was balanced in part by increases in exports to other Asian countries, above all to India and Indonesia, but also to Turkey. EU shipments to these countries increased several times over in recent years. But then, at the beginning of 2020, the world economy was hit by the coronavirus. The first lockdowns caused trade to virtually collapse in the spring of 2020, as illustrated by the export curve.

The full article on EU recovered paper exports to third countries in the first half of this year will appear in the print and e-paper issues of EUWID Recycling & Waste Management (19/2021) published on 22 September.

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