Trade in recyclable raw materials by waste (env_wastrd)

Reference Metadata in Euro SDMX Metadata Structure (ESMS)

Compiling agency: Eurostat, Statistical Office of the European Union

Eurostat metadata
Reference metadata
1. Contact
2. Metadata update
3. Statistical presentation
4. Unit of measure
5. Reference Period
6. Institutional Mandate
7. Confidentiality
8. Release policy
9. Frequency of dissemination
10. Accessibility and clarity
11. Quality management
12. Relevance
13. Accuracy
14. Timeliness and punctuality
15. Coherence and comparability
16. Cost and Burden
17. Data revision
18. Statistical processing
19. Comment
Related Metadata
Annexes (including footnotes)

For any question on data and metadata, please contact: EUROPEAN STATISTICAL DATA SUPPORT


1. Contact Top
1.1. Contact organisation

Eurostat, Statistical Office of the European Union

1.2. Contact organisation unit

E2: Environmental statistics and accounts; sustainable development

1.5. Contact mail address

2920 Luxembourg LUXEMBOURG

2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 06/11/2017
2.2. Metadata last posted 06/11/2017
2.3. Metadata last update 06/11/2017

3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

Trade in recyclable raw material shows the amounts (in mass unit) and the monetary value (in Euro) of total wastes that are shipped across intra- and extra EU borders.

The dataset includes following variables:

  • Imports to EU countries of recyclable raw materials (in order to characterise intra-EU trade);
  • Imports from non-EU countries and exports to non-EU countries of recyclable raw materials (in order to characterise trade of the EU with the rest of the world).
  • Exports to EU countries of recyclable raw materials, (in order to characterise trade among EU countries).

Data are disaggregated by EU-Member State and by category of material, following the classification provided by the JRC (see list of CN-codes used).

This dataset is taken from International Trade in Goods Statistics (ITGS) published by Eurostat. The data measure both the monetary value and the physical quantity of goods traded between the EU Member States (intra-EU trade) and of goods traded by the EU Member States with non-EU countries (extra-EU trade). ‘European’ means that the statistics are compiled on the basis of the concepts and definitions set out in EU legislation. ‘National’ statistics, i.e. statistics published at national level by the Member States, are compiled on the basis of national rules which may differ from EU rules.

Product coverage:

The scope of the “recyclable raw material” is defined and approximated in terms of relevant product codes selected from the list of Combined Nomenclature codes used in International Trade in Goods Statistics.

They are grouped according to JRC classification which provides a breakdown for the following material classes:

  • Plastic
  • Paper and cardboard
  • Precious metal
  • Iron and steel
  • Copper, aluminium and nickel
3.2. Classification system

Within international trade in goods statistics standardised classifications are applied to data on commodities and on countries. Regarding the product classification the Combined Nomenclature (CN) is applied for the detailed data whereas the Standard International Trade Classification (SITC) or the Broad Economic Categories (BEC) is used for aggregated data. The Geonomenclature is classifying the countries for international trade purposes.

The nomenclature of products which are disseminated is in accordance with the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS) 2, 4, 6 digit level and the detailed level (8 digits) of the Combined Nomenclature (CN8). The CN is subject to annual revisions that ensure that the CN is kept up to date in the light of changes in technology or in patterns in international trade.

Country and goods classifications include specific codes for example confidentiality and adjustment purposes. Nomenclatures and correspondence tables are available at the Eurostat's classification server RAMON.

Combined Nomenclature (CN) - Harmonised System (HS)

For extra- and intra-EU trade purposes goods are classified according to the Combined Nomenclature in the European Union. This classification is based on the Harmonised Commodity Description and Coding System (HS) managed by the World Customs Organisation (WCO). The HS uses a six digit numerical code for the coding of products and the Combined Nomenclature is further breaking down the coding into an eighth digit level according to EU needs.

The CN is extended with some alphanumeric codes that are used to identify confidential or adjusted data and trade for which a breakdown of the results at a detailed level of product classification is not possible.

Standard International Trade Classification (SITC)

International trade in goods statistics publish figures according to the Standard International Trade Classification of the United Nations. At present the fourth revised version of the SITC is applied which has a five-level hierarchical structure with purely numerical coding. The SITC enables to make comparisons on a worldwide basis.

Broad Economic Categories (BEC)

The Broad Economic Categories of the United Nations arranges international trade data into end-use categories that are meaningful within the framework of the System of National Accounts (SNA), namely categories approximating the three basic classes of goods in the SNA: capital, intermediate and consumer goods. The BEC includes nineteen basic categories. The basic categories are those that are not further sub-divided in the classification. Each category of the BEC is defined in terms of divisions, groups, subgroups and basic headings of the SITC.


International trade in goods statistics classifies the reporting country and the partner country according to the nomenclature of countries and territories for the external trade statistics of the Community and statistics of trade between Member States - known as the "Geonomenclature" and managed by Eurostat. An ISO alpha-2 codes are applied, which means that each country is identified with a two-letter alphabetical code. The Geonomenclature is subject to revisions in order to take into account any geopolitical changes.

3.3. Coverage - sector

The aim of international trade statistics as stated in the UN 2010 manual is ‘to record all goods which add to or subtract from the stock of material resources of a country by entering (imports) or leaving (exports) its economic territory’. At EU level, the ‘economic territory’ is the statistical territory of a Member State, which corresponds to its customs territory with one exception - the statistical territory but not the customs territory of Germany includes Heligoland.

3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

For detailed data, the following indicators, both on an annual basis, are disseminated:

  • trade value (gross value in thousand euro)
  • trade quantity (in tonne)
3.5. Statistical unit

Any natural and legal person lodging a customs declaration in a Member State is reporting to the extra-EU trade statistics on the condition that the customs procedure is of statistical relevance.

Within intra-EU trade statistics any taxable person carrying out an intra-EU trade transaction is responsible for providing the information.

However small and medium trade operators are exempted from obligation to provide Intrastat declarations. Member States have implemented a threshold system which allows intra-EU traders not to report on their transaction or provide less detailed information on condition that their total trade value does not exceed a certain amount during the previous or present calendar year. However, Member States assure quality standards when determining the national thresholds.

3.6. Statistical population

Trade in goods of the EU and its Member States includes all goods which add or subtract from the stock of material resources of the reporting Member State by entering (imports) or leaving (exports) its economic territory including goods for processing. Information on the goods is provided by legal or natural person.

3.7. Reference area

Data are published for each Member State. The aggregate EU28 is also available.

3.8. Coverage - Time

Data is published from the year 2004 onwards.

3.9. Base period

Not applicable.

4. Unit of measure Top

Trade value in thousand euro.

Trade quantity in tonne (net mass).

5. Reference Period Top

The reference period for the information on international trade transaction should be the calendar month of dispatch/export respectively that of arrival/import of the good. However, in practice the reference period is in general the calendar month during which the customs declaration is accepted by the national authorities on extra-EU trade and for intra-EU trade the calendar month during which VAT becomes chargeable on intra-EU acquisitions.

6. Institutional Mandate Top
6.1. Institutional Mandate - legal acts and other agreements

Extra-EU trade legislation: Statistics relating to the trading of goods by the Community and its Member States with non-member countries are based on Regulation (EC) No 471/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council, Commission Regulation (EC) No 92/2010 and Commission Regulation (EC) No 113/2010.

Intra-EU trade legislation: Statistics relating to the trading of goods between Members States are based on Regulation (EC) No 638/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council, and Commission Regulation (EC) No 1982/2004.

All regulations relevant for the European statistics on international trade in goods can be consulted from the ‘Legislation’ page of the ‘International trade in goods’ section on Eurostat website. All legal texts of the EU are accessible on Eur-Lex.

6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing

Not applicable.

7. Confidentiality Top
7.1. Confidentiality - policy

Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 on European statistics (recital 24 and Article 20(4)) of 11 March 2009 (OJ L 87, p. 164), stipulates the need to establish common principles and guidelines ensuring the confidentiality of data used for the production of European statistics and the access to those confidential data with due account for technical developments and the requirements of users in a democratic society.

7.2. Confidentiality - data treatment

Information about a product being traded may be regarded as commercially sensitive by the information provider for either the value of trade, the quantity of trade, or perhaps the ratio between the two, since this would give an indication of the price of the product. There are various ways in which the nature of the product can be suppressed although at the cost of a loss of information to the user of the statistics. Alternatively, the information provider may regard the origin or destination of goods as commercially sensitive. There are three types of confidentiality:

i) Partner Confidentiality: in order to conceal the destination or the origin of a product, the code of the partner country is replaced by a 'secret country code', different for intra- and extra-EU trade.

ii) Product confidentiality: in order to suppress the nature of the commodity involved, all or part of the trade is allocated to a confidential product code.

iii) Product and Partner Confidentiality: the two preceding types are applied at the same time; therefore both the partner and the product are hidden.

The levels of these three types of confidentiality can be assessed using data available in the Eurostat Comext database, where special codes are used for suppressing partner or product.

The impact of confidentiality over total trade, in terms of trade value, net mass and number of eight-digit product codes (CN8) is documented in the Quality Report on European statistics on international trade in goods.

8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

The precise date of the monthly release for international trade data is disseminated on the website. This dataset is updated once a year when complete results are available for the last reference year.

8.2. Release calendar access

Release calendar

8.3. Release policy - user access

In line with the Community legal framework and the European Statistics Code of Practice Eurostat disseminates European statistics on Eurostat´s website (see item 10 - ´Accessibility and clarity´) respecting professional independence and in an objective, professional and transparent manner in which all users are treated equitably. The detailed arrangements are governed by the Eurostat protocol on impartial access to Eurostat data for users.

9. Frequency of dissemination Top


10. Accessibility and clarity Top
10.1. Dissemination format - News release

Not available.

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

Eurostat, Statistics Explained. International trade in goods statistics - background

Eurostat, Statistics Explained. International trade in goods

Eurostat, Dedicated Section. International trade in goods

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

Please consult data on Eurostat's online database: Trade in recyclable raw material (env_wastrd).

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

Not applicable.

10.5. Dissemination format - other

Eurostat, Dedicated Section on Circular Economy.

10.6. Documentation on methodology

User Guide on European statistics on international trade in goods — The purpose of this Guide is to explain to a wide range of users how the statistics relating to trade in goods, both between EU Member States and with non-EU countries, are collected, compiled, processed and published at European level. The different issues are tackled in a question and answer format.

10.7. Quality management - documentation

Quality Report on European statistics on international trade in goods — This Report provides users with a tool to assess the quality of the international trade in goods statistics published by Eurostat. The data quality can be assessed against indicators covering the following components: relevance, accuracy, timeliness and punctuality, accessibility and clarity, comparability and coherence.

11. Quality management Top
11.1. Quality assurance

Quality reporting is not a new concept in European trade statistics. Since 2005, the Intrastat legislation made annual reporting on determined quality indicators for international trade statistics mandatory. Member States have to supply Eurostat with an annual Quality Report in a fixed deadline after the reference year. In practice this reporting process has been harmonized: Member States fulfil their obligation of quality reporting by completing the annual quality questionnaire pre-filled by Eurostat. The key quality indicators are then gathered in a summary Quality Report published on Eurostat website.

11.2. Quality management - assessment

The main strengths of the international trade in goods: the relevance, the timeliness and punctuality, the accessibility, the clarity and the coherence.

Their main weaknesses: the accuracy and the comparability.

12. Relevance Top
12.1. Relevance - User Needs

In a circular economy, residual materials are recycled and re-injected into the economy as new raw materials - then called 'secondary raw material'. This may have several benefits, both reducing net wastes and increasing the security of raw materials supply. An accurate picture of the European raw materials sector must include the movements of raw materials originating from waste, i.e. secondary raw materials, crossing European boundaries both as imports and exports, as well as of intra-EU trade.

Many non-hazardous waste streams are regarded as valuable resources because they are potentially an important source of raw materials. Overall, cross-border movements of recyclable waste have significantly increased over the last decade.

12.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

Not available.

12.3. Completeness

The EU trade statistics are based on the EU legislation which is directly applicable in the Member States. In particular, the legislation includes a clear and precise list of all the statistical variables to be provided by the Member States to Eurostat. All the mandatory variables are provided by all the Member States.

13. Accuracy Top
13.1. Accuracy - overall

As intra-EU trade statistics stem from Intrastat declarations by the traders, a main source of error that affects accuracy of intra-EU data is late or non-response. Intra-EU as well as extra-EU trade data accuracy is also affected by specific characteristics of this statistical field, such as the practice of concealing confidential information and the exemption thresholds applied by countries in order to reduce the burden on enterprises.

13.2. Sampling error

EU trade statistics are based on the Intrastat system for the intra-EU trade and on the customs clearance system for the extra-EU trade. Thus, international trade in goods statistics are not affected by errors specifically applicable to sample surveys.

13.3. Non-sampling error

Accuracy of the international trade data is affected in different ways by thresholds, non-response, confidentiality practices, as well as by statistical value calculations.

14. Timeliness and punctuality Top
14.1. Timeliness

According to the EU legislation, Member States should provide Eurostat with extra and intra-EU aggregated statistics within 40 calendar days after the reference month.

For extra-EU detailed statistics the transmission deadlines are 40 days after the reference month, and for intra-EU detailed statistics 70 calendar days after the reference month.

First results (including estimates) on Euro area and EU trade balances are published on line around 46 days after the reference month in the international trade Euro-indicators news release. The latest supplied detailed data (updates and revisions) are published at the date of the monthly press release. This indicator is updated once a year when complete results are available for the last reference year.

14.2. Punctuality

Eurostat publishes preliminary aggregates using, if necessary, estimates for missing countries. Inevitably, the data first sent for a month are subject to the possibility of later revision, as a consequence of errors, omissions or - particularly with the Intrastat system - late declarations by information providers.

15. Coherence and comparability Top
15.1. Comparability - geographical

Comparability between EU international trade statistics and those of its main partners.

There are two main approaches used for the measurement of international trade in goods, the general trade system and the special trade system. For extra-EU trade statistics, the special trade system is applied which means that goods from a non-EU country which are received into customs warehouses are not recorded in international trade in goods statistics unless they subsequently go into free circulation in the Member State of receipt (or are placed under the customs procedures for inward processing). Similarly, outgoing goods from customs warehouses are not recorded as exports. The general trade system, which is applied by most of the EU main partner countries, is a wider concept since it includes all goods entering or leaving the country. It should be noted that intra-EU trade statistics do not have a direct link to customs procedures, thus they are not compiled on a general or special trade basis.

15.2. Comparability - over time

Changes due to definitions, coverage or methods and other changes will have an impact on the continuity of international trade series. The impact of the different methodological and practical changes that have occurred in recent years (enlargement of the EU, changes in the Intrastat and Extrastat legislation, changes in product nomenclatures, etc.) is difficult to assess precisely. In particular the accession of new Member States to the EU may cause problems to the comparability over time since it implies for the acceding country a change from an administrative data source (Extrastat) to a purely statistical data collection system (Intrastat). This may have an impact on the accuracy of statistics at detailed level.

15.3. Coherence - cross domain

Apart from the international trade statistics, information on trade flows can be found in National Accounts, Business Statistics and Balance of Payments. The compilation of the data and the production of the above mentioned statistics follow the recommendations (sources and methods) of different international organisations, i.e. Eurostat, International Monetary Fund (IMF), United Nations (UN), etc. The Quality Report on International Trade Statistics documents the main differences between these sources in terms of concepts and definitions, statistical unit or object, classification (nomenclature) used, geographical breakdown, reference period and correction methods.

15.4. Coherence - internal

A key feature of the data set is its coherence. Aggregated data are constructed from detailed data over Member States and over different product classifications with the help of official correspondence tables. This ensures internal coherence. In addition, derived indicators such as unit value indices or seasonally adjusted series are calculated by Eurostat from the detailed data provided by Member States in order to maintain coherence.

An assessment of the internal coherence of the published datasets by the production unit.

16. Cost and Burden Top

The cost and burden are low due to the level of automatization.

17. Data revision Top
17.1. Data revision - policy

Data are revised frequently according to national needs and practices. They become normally final from six months up to more than one year after the reference year. Revisions to older data are also possible. Eurostat makes the revisions available in its monthly updates as soon as they were transmitted by the Member States.

17.2. Data revision - practice

Not applicable.

18. Statistical processing Top
18.1. Source data

Eurostat. International trade in goods statistics (comext).

18.2. Frequency of data collection


18.3. Data collection

Extra-EU trade statistics data are collected by using customs declaration. Intra-EU trade statistics are collected directly from trade operators as a consequence of the abolishment of customs control at the borders between the Member States.

18.4. Data validation

Not applicable.

18.5. Data compilation

Not applicable.

18.6. Adjustment

Not applicable.

19. Comment Top


Eurostat Copyright/Licence Policy is applicable.

Related metadata Top
ext_go_agg_esms - International trade in goods (ext_go_agg)

Annexes Top
List of CN codes used.