ETC/CE Report 2023/2 The fate of EU plastic waste

There has been a steady decline in the export of EU plastic waste trade, which, since 2017, has been surpassed (both in volume and value) by a growing flow of intra-EU waste trade, concludes a new report launched by Eionet Portal. It also finds that the composition of traded plastic waste polymers has been more or less constant within the EU (Intra-EU), while after 2018 (the year of the Chinese ban) the share of polymers of ethylene in extra-EU exports has increased, which may suggest an improvement in recyclability of extra-EU exports. This evidence is coupled with the increase in the average value of traded waste between 2020 and early 2022, again going in the direction of suggesting an improving quality of extra-EU flows in recent years.


The implications of this data assessment for the ongoing circular economy transition in the EU need, however, to be confronted with the degree of circularity of plastic waste management in destination countries, both inside and outside the EU. In this report, it is adopted a case-study based approach, also in relation to the difficulties in rigorously matching trade and waste management data sources.


Read the full report