While European recyclers do not oppose export prohibitions of problematic waste outside Europe such as mixed plastics, indiscriminate restrictions will suppress demand for high-value recycled materials such as metals and paper.
“If MEPs want to ensure waste is recycled in Europe, they must enshrine binding targets for the use of recycled materials in intermediate products such as metals, paper, and plastics,” says Emmanuel Katrakis, Secretary General of EuRIC, the European recycling industries federation. “If export prohibitions go ahead, high-value materials destined for recycling will instead pile up in landfill or end up incinerated. Polluting extracted raw materials will have an advantage over recycling in the absence of appropriate market conditions,” he added.
Currently, only 12% of materials used in EU production come from recycling, and proposed export prohibitions would reduce this even further. Mandatory targets for recycled materials can instead stimulate market demand in the EU, reducing reliance on international markets and thereby stimulating a truly European circular economy that prevents drastic amounts of CO2 emissions.