Plastic Waste Facts

Nearly 300 million tonnes of plastic wastes are produced every year.

(United Nations Environment Programme)
Between the 1950s and 1970s, plastic waste was manageable due to the relatively small amount of plastics. However, plastic production has skyrocketed in the following decades, and so does plastic wastes. Currently, the world produces approximately 300 million tonnes of plastic wastes per year based on world plastic waste statistics. This almost equalled the combined weights of the total human population.

By 2040, there will be 1.3 billion tonnes of plastic wastes present in the environment.

(World Economic Forum)
As more plastics are produced globally, and only a tiny portion of this is recycled, this generates more plastic wastes. As to the extent of the increase of plastic waste, statistics suggest there will be 1.3 billion tonnes of plastic garbage discarded on land and in bodies of water by 2040.

10 million tons of plastic debris reach marine environments every year.

(Plastic Oceans)
According to the plastic waste in the ocean stats, this is equivalent to more than one garbage truck of plastic thrown out into the seas per minute. For this reason, many experts projected that plastics would outweigh the fishes in the ocean by 2050.

50% of all plastics produced each year are single-use.

(Plastic Oceans)
As its name implies, single-use plastic is used for a few minutes only and then thrown away. Single-use plastic waste statistics show 380 million tons of single-use plastics (or 50% of the total plastic production) made each year. Since we use them only once, the same amount of plastic becomes trash in a year. European Union has recently introduced EU Guidelines for Single Use Plastics Products in July 2021. (See Guidelines)

About 500 billion single-use plastic bags are used worldwide every year.

(Ocean Crusaders Foundation)
This is among the most concerning single-use plastic waste statistics ever recorded. Many parties are to blame, but shoppers and retailers deserve special mentions.

Plastic wastage is growing at an annual rate of 9%.

Did you know the amount of plastic packaging thrown each year can circle the globe four times? You read it right! And there’s going to be more as according to plastic packaging waste statistics, plastic wastage is growing at an annual rate of 9%.

Every single person uses more than 700 plastic bags per year.

(The World Counts)
That equals 160,000 bags used every second and 5 trillion for the entire year. Moreover, plastic bags waste statistics suggest that this total number of plastic bags can cover an area that’s double France’s size.

The US is the world’s top generator of plastic waste.

(EcoWatch, Statista)
A recent study finds the US as the world’s number one generator of plastic waste. It’s also the third contributor to ocean plastic waste. As far as the US plastic waste statistics by state is concerned, it shows that Michigan produces more wastes than the other states. Its landfills had the highest amount of trash, accounting for over 62 tons per person.

The US generates more than 35 million tons of plastics but recycles just 8.3% of it.

(US Environmental Protection Agency & The Guardian)
According to the latest official statistics on plastic bottle waste, the country’s recycling rates for polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) bottles were 29.1% and 31.2%, respectively. For a nation with the largest economy and represents only 4% of the global population but produces 12% of the municipal waste worldwide, America has to do more.

The US produced more than 14.5 million tons of plastic containers and packaging.

(US Environmental Protection Agency)
The latest US plastic waste statistics by type indicate that the country produced more plastic containers and packaging, with this category having the most plastic tonnage. There are many types of plastic under this category, including bags, PET bottles, sacks, jars, wraps, and many other containers and packaging.

Australia’s bottled water industry, worth over half a billion dollars, generates more than 60,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year.

(Ocean Crusaders Foundation)
This is the same level of air pollution 13,000 cars can emit over 12 months. This is perhaps one of the facts about human health and plastic waste that has yet to enter the public consciousness.

Being able to last for up to 1,000 years means every plastic bag can kill numerous animals before it finally disappears.

(Ocean Crusaders Foundation & Plastic Recycling Library)
Lengthy disintegration is a well-known plastic bag waste fact. For this reason, every piece of plastic debris could have countless casualties throughout its life span. Once swallowed by a creature, the plastic will be re-released in the environment after its victim’s body decomposes. Then, the material can continue harming more wildlife for hundreds of years.

Around 70,000 microplastics are consumed by an average person each year.

(Global Citizen)
According to a study showing plastic pollution waste statistics, this amount, if broken down, is equivalent to approximately 100 bits of microplastic in just a single meal. No wonder even those who eat healthy foods develop serious illnesses. Those microplastics might be the culprit.

1 million marine animals die due to plastic pollution every year.

(Plastic Oceans)
Given the significant amount of plastic waste reaching the oceans per year, it’s not surprising how many marine lives they intoxicate and kill. An alarming plastic waste stat specifies that one million marine animals die each year due to plastic waste pollution. If this remains uncontrolled, the possibility of plastic waste outnumbering marine lives in the future is not far from happening.

The average working life of a plastic bag is 15 minutes.

(National Geographic)
This is the origin of many plastic bag waste statistics. Plastic bags are often used just once and then tossed. Due to poor management, our trash is usually not recycled, which is why it eventually finds its way into the ocean, staying there for at least half a millennium. Let that sink in for a minute.

75% of all plastic produced has become waste.

(Zero Waste Nest)
Statistics about plastic waste denote that three-fourths of all plastic ever produced is now garbage. This only means just 25% of this is being used. If that’s the case, then plastics are made to serve their beneficial purposes less and pollute the environment more.

About 91% of plastic is not recycled.

(National Geographic)
Six decades of plastic mass production resulted in 6.3 metric tons of trash, only 12% of which has been incinerated. The remaining 79% of plastic waste either sits idly in landfills or finds its way into the natural environment. Statistics on global plastic waste further indicate that only 9% of plastic can be recycled.

By 2040, the amount of plastic waste in the ocean will triple.

(National Geographic)
One of the worrying facts about plastic waste many may not be aware of is that there will be 29 metric tons of plastic waste flowing into the oceans two decades from now. The increase in plastic production will directly influence the rise in plastic waste pollution. This only suggests that environmental campaigns curb the issue with little progress.

We are using Nature to solve a Man-made problem Globally!

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