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Upward momentum to EU scrap exports

Europe – Exports of iron/steel, copper, aluminium and nickel scrap doubled between 1999 and 2011, the European Environment Agency (EEA) has reported. Meanwhile, overseas shipments of precious metals trebled during this same period while plastics scrap exports increased by a factor of five.

‘€˜Increasingly stringent and harmonised waste policies in the EU have led countries to transport more waste material elsewhere,’€™ the EEA notes. It expects international trade in recyclable materials to continue to grow, observing that exports of plastics and metals scrap have ‘€˜picked up again after the economic downturn and exceeded the pre-2009 levels in 2011’€™. Iron and steel scrap exports have ‘€˜risen hugely’€™ to reach a total value of Euro 18 billion in 2011, it adds.

At the same time, the EEA points out, hazardous waste exports ‘€˜overwhelmingly stay within the EU’€™. Some 74 million tonnes of hazardous waste was generated in the EU-27 in 2009 for a 28% increase over the year 2000 figure, the report underlines. The EEA suspects that imbalances in national capacities to handle the waste are the main catalyst for cross-border movements.

The Netherlands was the biggest exporter of hazardous waste among EU member states in 2009, trading 2.7 million tonnes. Germany was the biggest importer, taking in 3 million tonnes; the same country also generated the largest volume of hazardous waste in 2009 with a total of 17 million tonnes.

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