Data

Global plastics production

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What you should know about this indicator

Total annual plastic production is global annual pure polymer (resin) production data from 1950 to 2015, published by the Plastics Europe Market Research Group, and global annual fiber production data from 1970 to 2015 published by The Fiber Year and Tecnon OrbiChem (Geyer et al. 2017)

Global plastics production
Annual production of polymer resin and fibers.
Source
Geyer et al. (2017); OECD (2022) – with major processing by Our World in Data
Last updated
September 26, 2023
Date range
1950–2019
Unit
tonnes

Sources and processing

This data is based on the following sources

Plastics have outgrown most man-made materials and have long been under environmental scrutiny. However, robust global information, particularly about their end-of-life fate, is lacking. By identifying and synthesizing dispersed data on production, use, and end-of-life management of polymer resins, synthetic fibers, and additives, we present the first global analysis of all mass-produced plastics ever manufactured. We estimate that 8300 million metric tons (Mt) as of virgin plastics have been produced to date. As of 2015, approximately 6300 Mt of plastic waste had been generated, around 9% of which had been recycled, 12% was incinerated, and 79% was accumulated in landfills or the natural environment. If current production and waste management trends continue, roughly 12,000 Mt of plastic waste will be in landfills or in the natural environment by 2050.

Retrieved on
September 26, 2023
Citation
This is the citation of the original data obtained from the source, prior to any processing or adaptation by Our World in Data. To cite data downloaded from this page, please use the suggested citation given in Reuse This Work below.
Geyer et al., Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made. Sci. Adv.3,e1700782(2017).DOI:10.1126/sciadv.1700782

This dataset provides estimates of plastics use at the global level by application.

Primary plastics use is estimated using regional consumption by application data from Ryberg et al. (2019). An assumption of the split by polymer by application is made that it is homogenous to the global values. Histroical values (pre-2015 data) is extrapolated from 2015 data using the global evolution contained in Geyer, Jambeck and Law (2017). Secondary plastics use are derived using recycling rates and recycling loss rates, as described in the GPO annex. The plastics use data is associated with the economic flows in the OECD ENV-Linkages model to estimate changes over time. The total plastics use is equal to the sum of primary and secondary plastics use.

Retrieved on
September 21, 2023
Citation
This is the citation of the original data obtained from the source, prior to any processing or adaptation by Our World in Data. To cite data downloaded from this page, please use the suggested citation given in Reuse This Work below.
OECD (2022), Global Plastics Outlook, https://stats.oecd.org/viewhtml.aspx?datasetcode=PLASTIC_USE_10&lang=en, accessed on 21 September 2023

How we process data at Our World in Data

All data and visualizations on Our World in Data rely on data sourced from one or several original data providers. Preparing this original data involves several processing steps. Depending on the data, this can include standardizing country names and world region definitions, converting units, calculating derived indicators such as per capita measures, as well as adding or adapting metadata such as the name or the description given to an indicator.

At the link below you can find a detailed description of the structure of our data pipeline, including links to all the code used to prepare data across Our World in Data.

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Notes on our processing step for this indicator

The data on plastic production from 1950 to 2015 are based on the research by Greyer et al., published in 2017. For the years 2016 to 2018, the figures were projected by applying a consistent annual growth rate of 5%, which aligns with the growth estimates provided by Geyer. The most recent data for the year 2019 has been directly sourced from the OECD Global Plastics Outlook, released in 2022.

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Citations

How to cite this page

To cite this page overall, including any descriptions, FAQs or explanations of the data authored by Our World in Data, please use the following citation:

“Data Page: Global plastics production”, part of the following publication: Hannah Ritchie, Veronika Samborska and Max Roser (2023) - “Plastic Pollution”. Data adapted from Geyer et al., OECD. Retrieved from https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/global-plastics-production [online resource]
How to cite this data

In-line citationIf you have limited space (e.g. in data visualizations), you can use this abbreviated in-line citation:

Geyer et al. (2017); OECD (2022) – with major processing by Our World in Data

Full citation

Geyer et al. (2017); OECD (2022) – with major processing by Our World in Data. “Global plastics production” [dataset]. Geyer et al., “Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made”; OECD, “Global Plastics Outlook - Plastics use by application” [original data]. Retrieved June 24, 2024 from https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/global-plastics-production