The flood of waste plastics out of the European Union continues unabated. According to the most recent figures from Eurostat, the European statistics office, the 27 EU Member States exported around 3.36 million tonnes of "waste, parings and scrap of plastic" to destinations outside the EU (Extra-EU trade). The total value of the exports ran to around €961m (2010: 3.38 million tonnes, €909m). The export shipments were nearly all destined for Asia, with the largest part of those being sent to East Asia.
Nearly 87 per cent of the waste plastics exported from the EU were imported by China and the Chinese special administrative region of Hong Kong. The data appears to show a shift in recent years to favour direct exports to China. Exports to India and Malaysia have also risen sharply.
As in the past, the lion's share of European waste plastics exports in 2011 consisted of polyethylene (PE). Waste PE shipments from the EU to China and Hong Kong alone reached 1.6 million tonnes last year.