How competitive ist the European recycling industry worldwide?, new study asked

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Anlage zum Kühlgeräte-Recycling (Foto: Andritz MeWa GmbH)

Bristol, UK — The mineral raw materials sector (MRMS), comprising the non-energy extractive industry (NEEI) and recycling industry (RI), provides many of the basic raw materials required by Europe’s manufacturing and construction industries. The purpose of a new study by Eunomia Research & Consulting is to provide the European Commission with a clear and up-to-date understanding of the current competitiveness of the EU NEEI and RI in respect of the MRMS.

The study is titled „Study on the Competitiveness of the EU Primary and Secondary Mineral Raw Materials Sectors. Final Report for DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs“ and was funded by the European Commission, Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW). The report aims to provide a sound foundation of evidence that will enable the European Commission to support the sustainable growth of the industries. It sets out to consider the competitiveness of the 28 Member States of the European Union (EU28) as a trading bloc relative to the rest of the world, but does not consider the individual Member States’ position. The emphasis has been on performance of the EU28 as a trading bloc.

Previous studies have identified that some of the NEEI industries face significant challenges associated with global competition, and they foresaw that this was likely to continue. Similar investigations have also concluded that Europe has a significant opportunity in the field of recycling, although the basis for this is not so clear. Additionally, the Commission emphasises the potential growth that could be realised by developing and enhancing ‘industrial symbiosis’ whereby waste materials from some firms are used as raw material inputs by other firms, as outlined in the Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe. The combined assessment in this study of both the extractive and recycling industries aims, for the first time, to present a combined picture of the MRMS.

For the recycling industry, the EU28 has historically accounted for high volumes of traded recyclate. The study has found that the legislative framework of the EU28 provides strong support for the industry, and in environmental protection in general. However, some competitor countries have been able to provide a demand-side stimulus for their recycling industry, by lowering relative costs of products made with recycled content; a comparable initiative is not present in the EU28. Although capture rates are increasing, there is a still a considerable variation between Member States. Furthermore, some metallic waste streams produce low quality recyclate which impose additional costs on the EU28 recycling industry.

The full report can be downloaded under bookshop.europa.eu.

Source: DG Growth / Eunomia Research & Consulting Ltd