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About this book

During the last century international trade has become indispensable for many economies. This is not only the case for trade in primary raw materials and consumer products but also for secondary (recyclable) materials. With the rapid growth of the recycling sector worldwide, trade in recyclables increased tremendously. It is striking that most of this trade flows from developed to developing countries. This book addresses the main causes of this typical trade pattern and investigates its economic and environmental effects by carrying out case studies on waste paper imports in India, waste plastics imports in China, and used-tyre trade in Europe. The book concludes by recommending policies that are aimed at preventing negative economic and environmental effects potentially resulting from trade in recyclables. The book offers new ideas to researchers who are involved in international trade, material flows, and waste management, and provides new insights for decision-makers who are interested in WTO and the Basel Convention.

Table of Contents

Frontmatter

Starting from scrap

Chapter 1. Starting from scrap

Abstract
Recycling is generally considered an important strategy for alleviating the pressures of society on the environment. Natural resources are saved, emissions are decreased, and the burden of solid waste is reduced. At the same time, recycling creates employment and attracts investments. In recent years many countries have experienced large increases in recycling. The rationale behind this development varies between the developed and the developing world. In the North the increase in recycling is assumed to have mainly resulted from higher disposal costs, increased public concern about the health and environmental impacts of waste disposal, and a general perception that recycling can result in resource conservation. Recycling in the South is thought to be driven particularly by more economic motives.
Pieter J. H. van Beukering

Theory and Methods

Frontmatter

Chapter 2. Theories of international trade in secondary materials

Abstract
The importance of international trade in the world economy is steadily increasing. Since World War II, trade in materials, goods and services has grown rapidly in terms of both volume and diversity. Originally, trade involved predominantly agricultural products and primary commodities. It was in the 20th century that trade in intermediary and final goods really took off. In recent decades, also recyclable and non-recyclable waste materials have entered the world market. This evolution in international trade implies that the full range of economic activities, running right through from extraction, production and consumption to waste management are increasingly being allocated across nations.
Pieter J. H. van Beukering

Chapter 3. Models of international recycling

Abstract
To deal with the complexity of recycling, a wide variety of models have been developed, each serving an explicit purpose. All these models have defined analytical boundaries: no one model captures the full system. Often the international dimension of physical and economic relationships in recycling is ignored. This is inconsistent with the current trend of the increasing importance of international trade in recycling-related material flows. Therefore, there is a need for an international material-product chain (MPC) that allows for international interaction between various stages in the life cycle.
Pieter J. H. van Beukering

Chapter 4. Valuation of externalities

Abstract
Recycling is widely assumed to be environmentally beneficial (Craighill and Powell 1996). It slows down the exhaustion of scarce resources and limits the use of landfill space. Recycling, however, also generates significant environmental impacts through the collection, sorting and processing of materials into new products. Therefore, it is unclear when recycling is to be preferred to the use of virgin goods. Studies about the desirability of recycling sometimes lead to opposite conclusions. Leach et al. (1998) found that in the United Kingdom incineration of waste paper is environmentally preferred to recycling. Ackerman (1998) discuss an aluminium recovery scheme in Wisconsin in which the environmental damage of the collection exceeds the benefits of recycling.
Pieter J. H. van Beukering

Case Studies

Frontmatter

Chapter 5. Empirical evidence on recycling and trade in paper and lead in developed and developing countries

Abstract
Empirical evidence on recycling at a global scale is scant. Often data on recycling are provided on national levels only. The few obtainable cross-country studies on recycling are mostly focussed on one particular material or region. Therefore, it is difficult to draw general conclusions on recycling in developed and developing countries. An aggregated overview of trade and recycling in both regions was presented in Chapter 1. It was recognised that trade in secondary materials from developed to developing countries has increased significantly in the last three decades. This typical trade pattern is a strong indication for specialisation in the recycling sector of both regions.
Pieter J. H. van Beukering

Chapter 6. Recycling and trade of waste paper in India

Abstract
The paper industry in India is more than a century old. Commercial production of paper started as early as 1879. Limitations with respect to forest-based raw materials forced the Indian paper industry, in these early stages of its development, to utilise non-conventional materials, such as straw, bagasse, and textile material. India was the first country in the world to have a paper mill relying entirely on bamboo as its primary fibre. The use of non-conventional raw materials was strongly supported by the Indian government (RAO 1989). Around 1950 waste paper was also introduced as a raw material for the production of paper.
Pieter J. H. van Beukering

Chapter 7. Recycling and trade in waste plastics in China

Abstract
In the last three decades, plastics have rapidly gained importance in Chinese national life. Consumers and industrial users have expanded their demand for plastics by an estimated animal growth of 20 percent. The coming decade is a crucial period for the Chinese plastics industry in meeting this demand. At the same time, the rapidly increasing waste burden of plastics has to be minimised This requires intense efforts on the part of the formal and informal waste management sectors as well as the plastics recycling industry. The Chinese recycling sector can control the burden of solid waste by expanding the market for recovered materials, thereby narrowing the gap between the demand and supply of plastics resources. Trade plays an important role in this endeavour.
Pieter J. H. van Beukering

Chapter 8. Trade and recycling of used truck tyres in Western and Eastern Europe

Abstract
By facilitating the transport of materials, goods vehicle and passenger car tyres provide an important service to society. Nevertheless, tyres can cause environmental pressure in many ways, in different stages of the life cycle of tyres, including production, consumption, and solid waste management (SWM). The production stage is important because the tyre industry is the world’s largest consumer of natural and synthetic rubber. The consumption stage is important because the maintenance of tyres has a significant impact on the environmental performance of tyres (Nicoletti and Notarnicola 1999). Due to the increased number of vehicles, the ‘mountain’ of used tyres has grown dramatically during recent decades. Every year, approximately 800 million scrap tyres are discarded around the globe. This amount is expected to increase by approximately 2 percent each year (UNCTAD 1996; EEA 1995).
Pieter J. H. van Beukering

Chapter 9. Summary, conclusions, and recommendations

Abstract
Over the last decades of the 20th century a large number of countries have experienced a substantial increase in materials recycling. During the same period, the international trade of recyclable materials between developed countries and developing countries has grown as well. A specific trade pattern has emerged: waste materials recovered in developed countries are exported to developing countries for recycling.
Pieter J. H. van Beukering

Backmatter

Additional information