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Knowledge category: Papers and reports

Investigating Europe′s secondary raw material markets

Updated on 26.06.2023

This report develops an assessment framework to describe the functionality of existing secondary raw material (SRM) markets. Applying the framework to selected SRM markets reveals specific reasons that explain why certain markets are functioning sub-optimally.

Author: European Environmental Agency
Year of publication: 2022

More information

SRM markets are crucial for a circular economy. This is because SRMs enable recyclables to re-enter the production value chain, which reduces dependency on primary resources as a result. This role is acknowledged in the EU Circular Economy Action Plan of 2020. However, if policy is to help establish or further develop such markets, we need to better understand the currently fragmented SRM markets in the EU. The report describes barriers preventing markets from reaching their full potential from a value chain perspective. It also identifies potential measures that could effectively support SRM markets in the EU.

Relevance for Circular Systemic Solutions

A rapid development of SRM markets is a critical step for a further advancement of a circular economy in the EU. Recent international events and developments like the surge in the price of energy and industrial primary commodities in 2021–2022 are expected to stimulate substitution with secondary materials, thus increasing the market for SRMs. The report can be useful for cities and regions for several reasons. First, to learn about the criteria that can be used to assess the performance of SRM markets. Second, the analysis of regulatory, economic, technical and quality barriers to SRM market development by phase of the value chain (design and products, waste generation, waste collection, sorting and separation, recycling, processing, SRM markets) provides insights into specific areas and issues that cities and regions can consider when analysing the status of local/regional SRM markets and identifying the intervention areas for further actions. Third, the report presents insights into the current status of SRM markets for aluminium, paper and cardboard, wood (construction and packaging), glass, plastics, biowaste, construction and demolition waste (mineral fraction), and textiles. Altogether, the report provides useful information and actionable knowledge that can be used by cities and regions to develop a Circular Systemic Solution that focuses on or considers the development of local/regional SRM markets and their further advancement.


CEAP2 key product value chain

CEAP2 key product value chain

CEAP2 key product value chain

CEAP2 key product value chain

built environment, CEAP2 key product value chain

CEAP2 key product value chain

CEAP2 key product value chain

CEAP2 key product value chain

e.g. chemicals, cosmetics, bio-based industries

e.g. electrical engineering, furniture and interior, textile and fashion

e.g. B2B services

e.g. healthcare

including bio-based economy

digital tools facilitating CE transition

Territories involved

large 500 000-200 000, medium 200 000-50 000, and small cities 50 000-5 000

large metropolitan area >1.5 million, metropolitan area 1.5 million-500 000

predominantly urban regions, intermediate and predominantly rural regions, refer to TERCET typology NUTS 3 region

Intra-territorial areas

e.g. commercial, residential, service, industrial