European recycling firms and trade associations warn EU against restricting recyclate exports

Recycling market

Nearly 300 European recycling firms and trade associations have written to European leaders calling on them not to restrict recyclate exports.

In a letter to the executives of the European Commission, the European Parliament and Slovenian Presidency of the Council, the letter calls for a clear distinction in the legal regime between “problematic waste streams” and Raw Materials from Recycling (RMR) in the upcoming Waste Shipment Regulation.


The letter was signed by 300 European recycling firms and trade federations from across Europe, including The Recycling Association and British Metals Recycling Association. It was coordinated by EuRIC.

RMR are currently labelled as non-hazardous waste under EU law, and would likely be impacted by any regulation that issues a blanket ban on waste.

In the letter, it is pointed out that RMR are not waste, but high-quality commodities with a green carbon footprint.

EuRIC president Cinzia Vezzosi said: “RMR are intrinsically climate-friendly and circular materials, which are priced and traded globally as commodities.

“European recyclers are supplying quality materials to both the European industry and globally. Subjecting RMR – which are still classified as non-hazardous waste – to export restrictions will pose a vital threat to European recyclers, be them SMEs or large multinational companies, in the absence of secured end-markets for circular materials in the EU.

“It will result in massive green job cuts and put a lasting brake on the growth of one of the most dynamic industries in Europe, for no environmental gains. Worse still, with unhampered imports of extracted raw materials in Europe, the competitiveness of RMR will drop and thus the incentive to properly collect, recycle, and invest will be lost, putting at risk the ability to achieve present recycling targets set by legislation.”

The co-signatories urged the EU to ensure that:

Export restrictions foreseen in the revised WSR solely target problematic waste streams
: a “one-size-fits-all” solution whereby no distinction is made between untreated problematic waste streams and RMR that can be used directly in circular value chains will run against the very objectives of the EU Green Deal;
Free and fair trade of RMR, which is essential to the competitiveness of the European recycling industry, is upheld: restricting exports of raw materials meeting quality specifications based on their waste classification will significantly impact the competitiveness of the European recycling industry;
A stable legislative framework with a proper classification for RMR and incentives is implemented to reward the environmental benefits of circular materials and mandate their use in products.

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