Global plastic production
Plastics are used in a wide variety of products and have displaced other materials, such as wood, metal, and glass. It can be formed into polyesters for use in fabrics and textiles, polyvinylidene chloride for food packaging, and polycarbonates for eyeglasses and compact discs, among thousands of other uses. The production of plastic requires four basic steps: the acquirement of raw material, synthesizing a basic polymer, compounding the polymer into a usable fraction, and lastly, molding or shaping the plastic. The production of plastic is quite energy intensive, requiring 62 to 108 mega joules of energy per kilogram based on U.S. efficiency averages. Producing silicon can require up to 235 mega joules per kilogram of material.
In 2016, the global production of plastics reached 335 million metric tons, with 60 million metric tons produced in Europe alone. China is one of the largest producers of plastics in the world, accounting for around one quarter of the global production. Plastic imports from China into the United States are steadily increasing as China’s plastic industry grows. Production of plastics in China will continue to develop and include more efficient companies that produce higher quality plastics.