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Plastic material production worldwide by region 2018

In 2018, China had a total share of approximately 30 percent of the global production of plastic materials. NAFTA was the second largest plastic producing region in the world after China, accounting for 18 percent of global production. The total worldwide production of plastics in 2018 amounted to some 359 million metric tons.

Plastic: the material to replace many

Plastics are used in almost every segment of life - from everyday life to industrial applications. On a global level, plastics have displaced many traditional materials, such as wood, stone, horn and bone, leather, paper, metal, glass, and ceramic. It is forecast that by 2050, the cumulative production volume of all plastics ever produced will reach 34 billion metric tons, up from the two billion metric tons that had been produced as of 1950.

China: the plastic leader

As the leading manufacturing economy and exporter of goods in the world, it is not surprising that China is the world’s largest producer of plastic as well. On a monthly basis, China’s plastic production ranges (on average) from between five and twelve million metric tons. In comparison, the entirety of Latin America produced some 14 million metric tons of plastics in 2018. Furthermore, China’s exports of plastics amounted to a whopping 11.7 million tons in 2017, and the value of those exports amounted to nearly 40 billion U.S. dollars.

Distribution of global plastic materials production in 2018, by region*

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Release date

October 2019



Survey time period


Supplementary notes

* Plastics materials: includes thermoplastics, polyurethanes, thermosets, elastomers, adhesives, coatings and sealants, and polypropylene-fibers. Does not include polyethylene terephthalate, PA, and polyacryl fibers.
Figures correspond to a total global plastic production volume of 359 million metric tons in 2018.

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Statistics on "Plastic industry worldwide"

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