Recovered paper exports from the EU to third countries at lowest level since 2003

EU member states supplied significantly less recovered paper to countries outside the European Union (third countries) last year. Exports fell by 28 per cent year-on-year in 2021 according to Eurostat data. This is the lowest level reported since 2003. Export volumes have fallen sharply since 2017, primarily due to the tightening of Chinese import regulations for secondary raw materials. EU exporters offset the decline in shipments to China to some degree by raising their exports to other countries, especially in Asia. But even sales to these alternative markets have recently experienced strong annual fluctuations.

The data published in late March by the European statistics authority shows that 2021 was no exception. Besides a further reduction in recovered paper shipments from the EU to China to just under 12,000 tonnes for the whole year, the Eurostat data revealed a sharp decline in exports to India, Vietnam and Turkey.

A "clerical error" in the amendment of EU waste shipment rules last October is likely responsible for the largest part of the 29 per cent drop in deliveries from the EU to India. As reported previously by EUWID, the amendment of EU Regulation 1418/2007 on the export of green-listed waste for recovery to non-OECD countries resulted in an unintended ban on recovered paper shipments to India. As a result, only a few EU countries, exploiting national "end-of-waste" rules releasing recovered paper from the scope of waste legislation and reportedly also at least one member state which declined to enforce the export ban, continued to export material to the country....

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