Analysis: How OCC and mixed paper export destinations have changed in 2020

UK key destinations for exports of OCC
The key destinations for UK exports of OCC

In this article, I look at how the export destinations have changed in 2020 compared to 2019 for OCC and mixed paper (HS 470710 and HS 470790 commodity codes respectively) from the UK.

This is based on HMRC data that is available for up to September 2020. For direct comparative purposes, I have used the period January to September 2020 and January to September 2019.


To qualify for inclusion on this list, at least 1,000 tonnes in a single month needed to have been exported to the country in question. In some circumstances, this was a regular occurrence, while for others it may have only happened once.

Destinations are listed in order of their 2020 imports of UK material.


Exports of this commodity code from the UK have fallen by 295,484 tonnes in 2020 to 1,409,605 tonnes from 1,705,089 tonnes in 2019 for the countries listed here and in the comparative periods of January to September 2020 and January to September 2019.

India has been the number one destination for UK OCC in 2020 but only rising 8,810 tonnes from 294,904 tonnes in 2019 to 303,714 tonnes this year for the comparative period.

Turkey has risen to second in the table taking 266,619 tonnes of UK material in 2020, increasing by 68,390 tonnes on 2019’s 198,229 tonnes.

Malaysia has seen the largest increase in UK exports rising by 203,506 tonnes in 2020 to 220,562 tonnes from just 17,056 tonnes in the same period in 2019.

Vietnam has also seen a very big jump in UK export to 180,580 tonnes in 2020 from 50,991 tones in 2019 – an increase of 129,589 tonnes.

Fifth on the list but falling by 13,052 tonnes is Indonesia, which imported 155,293 tonnes of UK material in 2020 compared to 168,345 tonnes from January to September 2019.

Sixth and representing the biggest fall is China which has dropped by 702,027 tonnes in 2020 ahead of the ban on imports at the end of this year. It imported just 118,027 tonnes up to September in this year compared to 820,054 tonnes in the same period in 2019.

Another strong growth market, like Malaysia and Vietnam, is Thailand with 79,696 tonnes so far this year, up 48,326 tonnes compared to 31,370 tonnes in the same period in 2019.

France has also seen more imports, rising by 15,304 tonnes from 13,940 tonnes last year to 29,244 tonnes this year.

A big drop has been seen in UK exports to the Netherlands (possibly as a result of it being a transition destination to elsewhere), with tonnage dropping by 21,973 tonnes to 25,555 tonnes in 2020 compared to 47,528 tonnes in the comparative period in 2019.

Exports to Taiwan have also fallen to 20,487 tonnes – a drop of 21,516 tonnes from 42,003 tonnes in 2019.

Last on this list is Germany taking just 9,828 tonnes in 2020, down 10,841 tonnes from 20,669 tonnes in 2019.

CountryJan-Sep 2020 TonnesJan-Sep 2019 Tonnes

Mixed paper

In 2020, total exports of UK mixed paper dropped to 947,418 tonnes compared to 1,060,828 tonnes in the period from January to September 2019 – a fall of 113,410 tonnes.

India remains the dominant market for UK mixed taking 371,635 tonnes in 2020, although this was a fall of 11,566 tonnes compared to 383,201 tonnes in the same period in 2019.

The Netherlands was the next best destination (although this will also include transitional tonnage for elsewhere) with 84,744 tonnes, up 4,728 tonnes from 80,466 tonnes in 2019.

Germany saw a very large increase of 48,942 tonnes to 81,421 tonnes in 2020 from just 32,479 tonnes in the same period of 2019.

Perhaps under the radar, but the fourth best destination for UK mixed is Thailand. Its imports increased by 43,353 tonnes to 74,645 tonnes up to September in 2020 compared to 31,292 tonnes in the relevant months of 2019.

Vietnam also saw an increase in imports to 66,640 tonnes, rising by 32,401 tonnes from 34,239 tonnes in 2019.

Despite being banned, China somehow received 57,820 tonnes of UK material in 2020, down 213,319 tonnes from 271,139 tonnes in 2019.

Indonesia saw a large fall in mixed imports with just 48,186 tonnes headed there this year so far down 69,687 tonnes on 2019’s 117,873 tonnes.

Taiwan was largely unchanged at 45,376 tonnes increasing by just 2,139 tonnes on 43,237 tonnes in 2019.

Like with OCC, Malaysia saw a large increase rising by 31,323 tonnes to 33,659 tonnes from just 2,336 tonnes in 2019.

France saw just 34 extra tonnes so far in 2020 at 32,513 tonnes from 32,479 tonnes last year.

Turkey also registered an increase rising by 21,802 tonnes to 28,249 tonnes this year compared to the same period in 2019 when just 6,447 tonnes had been exported there.

Pakistan saw a fall of 3,855 tonnes taking 14,466 tonnes in 2020, down from 18,321 tonnes last year.

Finally, Belgian imports increased by 745 tonnes to 8,064 tonnes from 2019’s 7,319 tonnes.

CountryJan-Sep 2020 TonnesJan-Sep 2019 Tonnes

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