Global plastic production statistics

This statistic displays the production volume of plastics worldwide (and in Europe) from 1950 to 2018. In 2018, world plastics production totaled around 359 million metric tons.

Worldwide plastics 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 2018, the global production of plastics reached 359 million metric tons, with 62 million metric tons produced in Europe alone. China is one of the largest producers of plastics in the world, accounting for more than 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.

Global plastic production from 1950 to 2018 (in million metric tons)*

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Release date

October 2019



Survey time period

1950 to 2018

Supplementary notes

* Includes thermoplastics, polyurethanes, thermosets, elastomers, adhesives, coatings and sealants, and polypropylene-fibers. Does not include the following fibers: PET-, PA-, PP- and polyacryl-fibers.
This statistic was assembled using several editions of the annual report.

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