Exports of recyclable plastic and paper to China from the EU has dropped sharply, according to the latest data from Eurostat.
In 2019, the exports of plastic waste to China dropped to 14,000 tonnes from 50,000 tonnes in 2018.
The EU exported about 1.4 million tonnes of plastic waste to China in 2016.
In 2017, China filed a notification with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to ban the trade of four classes and 24 kinds of solid waste by the end of 2017.
These included all plastic scrap, unsorted waste paper, certain metal recycling residues, textiles and all unsorted waste or scrap.
Shift In Destination
The ban resulted in a shift in the destination of recyclable paper and plastic waste to other Asian countries and Turkey.
In 2019, Malaysia received 24% of the total EU exports of plastic waste, while Turkey and Indonesia accounted for 17% and 6% respectively.
Between 2016 and 2019, the total exports of plastic recyclables fell from 2.6 million tonnes to 1.5 million tonnes.
In 2019, the export of paper waste from the EU to China reduced to less than 700,000 tonnes.
In this period, exports were directed to India (19%), Indonesia (17%), Turkey (12%), Vietnam (11 %) and Thailand (10%).
The EU exported over 5 million tonnes of paper waste to China in 2016.
The total exports of paper waste dropped from 7.4 million tonnes to 5.8 million tonnes between 2016 and 2019.
The exports of paper and plastic waste to China saw its lowest levels in January 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.