Where does EU waste go? - Products Eurostat News

null Where does EU waste go?


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In 2020, EU exports of waste to non-EU countries reached 32.7 million tonnes, an increase of three quarters (+75%) since 2004. In contrast, imports of waste from non-EU countries decreased by 10% since 2004, amounting to 16.0 million tonnes in 2020.

Infographic: EU import and export of waste

Turkey: main destination for EU’s waste exports

Turkey is the largest destination for waste exported from the EU, with a volume of around 13.7 million tonnes in 2020 - more than three times as much as in 2004. The second largest destination was India, which received almost 2.9 million tonnes of waste from the EU in 2020, followed by the United Kingdom (1.8 million tonnes), Switzerland (1.6 million tonnes), Norway (1.5 million tonnes), Indonesia and Pakistan (both 1.4 million tonnes).

In recent years, Pakistan has markedly grown as a destination for EU waste, with volumes increasing from 0.1 million tonnes in 2004 to 1.4 million tonnes in 2020. In sharp contrast, EU exports of waste to China have fallen from a peak of 10.1 million tonnes in 2009 to 0.6 million tonnes in 2020.

Infographic: Main destinations of waste from the EU

Ferrous metals waste accounts for half of all waste exports from the EU

In 2020, exports of ferrous metals waste (iron and steel) from the EU amounted to 17.4 million tonnes, accounting for more than half (53%) of all waste exports. The main destination was Turkey; with 11.8 million tonnes, Turkey received more than two thirds (68%) of the ferrous metal waste exported from the EU. Moreover, the EU imported 4.1 million tonnes of ferrous metal waste, with almost a third (32%) coming from the United Kingdom.

Although at a far lower level, considerable amounts of paper waste were also exported from the EU. The 6.1 million tonnes exported accounted for close to one fifth (19%) of the EU’s waste exports in 2020. 1.6 million tonnes (26%) of this were destined for India, 1.2 million tonnes (20%) for Indonesia and 0.9 million tonnes (15%) for Turkey. However, there were also 2.2 million tonnes of paper waste imported to the EU, with the largest amount (0.9 million tonnes, or 41%) arriving from the United Kingdom.

Infographic: Exports and imports of waste from/to the EU​​​​​​​

For more information:

  • The article is based on data from this   special data extraction.
  • The scope of 'waste’ is measured in terms of relevant product codes from the Combined Nomenclature used in International Trade in Goods Statistics - see list of the codes.
  • For more information on statistics available in this area, take a look at the overviews of international trade in goods and of waste statistics.
  • The United Kingdom is considered as an extra-EU partner country for the EU for the whole period covered by this article. However, the United Kingdom was still part of the internal market until the end of the transitory period (31 December 2020), meaning that data on trade with the United Kingdom were still based on statistical concepts applicable to trade between the EU Member States. Consequently, while imports from any other extra-EU trade partner are grouped by country of origin, the United Kingdom data reflect the country of consignment. In practice this means that the goods imported by the EU from the United Kingdom were physically transported from the United Kingdom but part of these goods could have been of other origin than the United Kingdom. For this reason, data on trade with the United Kingdom are not fully comparable with data on trade with other extra-EU trade partners.


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