Turkey imported nearly half of EU waste last year

Turkey received nearly 50% of all waste exports from Europe in 2021, statistics from the European Commission show.

Published on 25 May, the Eurostat data shows that around 14.7 million tonnes were exported to Turkey in 2021 – more than three times as much as in 2004 and almost half of the total exports of waste.

Total exports of waste reached 33 million tonnes, broadly the same as the previous year.

The data revealed that India was the second largest destination, receiving almost 2.4 million tonnes of waste from the EU in 2021. This was followed by Egypt with 1.9 million tonnes and Switzerland (1.7 million tonnes), placing the UK the fifth on the chart.


Eurostat explained that more than half of all waste exports from the EU comprise of ferrous metals. It said: “In 2021, exports of ferrous metals waste (iron and steel) amounted to 19.5 million tonnes, accounting for 59% of all waste exports from the EU.”

Turkey reportedly received 13.1 million tonnes (67%) of all ferrous metal waste exported from the EU. The report continued that the EU imported 5.5 million tonnes of ferrous metal waste, with 32% coming from the UK.

Exports included paper at 4.4 million tonnes (13% of all EU waste exports in 2021). The figures showed that of these, India received 1.2 million tonnes (26%) as the major destination, followed by Indonesia (0.9 million tonnes or 22%) and Turkey (0.4 million tonnes or 10%).

Eurostat said that 2.4 million tonnes of paper waste was also imported to the EU, with the largest amount (1 million tonnes or 42%) arriving from the United Kingdom.

Other exported materials were non-ferrous metals and textiles, with glass being the least exported material.


EU’s overall import of waste in 2021 was at 19.7 million tonnes, up from 16 million tonnes in 2020. According to the statistics, Netherlands was the biggest importer in 2021 with 2.9 million tonnes. In 2020, Germany topped the chart with 2.4 million tonnes.

Eurostat’s export figures remained broadly like the previous year. Overall export was 32.9 million tonnes, with Netherlands at the top again with 6.4 million tonnes of waste exported.

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