Plastic waste in the UK - Statistics & Facts

Since the discovery of polypropylene and with the manufacturing of plastics for packaging purposes taking off in the 1950s, the production of plastic has reached roughly 8.3 billion metric tons worldwide. Of all globally produced plastics, only nine percent had been recycled until 2017.

In the United Kingdom, the volume of plastics packaging collected for recycling between 2015 and 2017 had increased for both plastic bottles and pots, as well as tubs and trays. The recycling rate of plastic packaging waste had risen alsol, reaching 39.4 percent in 2015. The majority of recovered plastic packaging was put back into the packaging sector, mostly as non-food contact packaging.

In 2017, roughly 594,000 tons of plastic bottles were consumed, with 351,907 tons collected for recycling purposes. That same year, figures for plastic waste collection showed that Wales recorded the highest collection rate for plastic bottles at 76 percent. Regarding the quantity of collected plastics pots, tubs and trays from kerbside schemes, 139,801 metric tons had been collected in England in 2017. This was by far the highest volume throughout the UK.

When it comes to marine waste, the most common form of litter found on beaches in the United Kingdom was of plastic or polystyrene origin. In the 2017 Great British Beach Clean campaign hosted between September 15th and 18th, roughly 225 pieces of plastic and polystyrene had been collected on average per 100 meters of beach. That year, the largest amounts of marine waste was found on beaches in England, with 911 pieces of litter found per 100 meters.

According to a survey conducted that same year in the UK, 43 percent of respondents stated they bought beverages in plastic bottles very frequently. In addition, 29 percent of respondents were much more likely to recycle plastic bottles with the introduction of a deposit return scheme, while two percent did not see the point in recycling in general.

Interesting statistics

In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 32 most important statistics relating to "Plastic waste in the UK".

Plastic waste in the UK

Dossier on the topic

All important statistics are prepared by our experts – available for direct download as PPT & PDF!

Important key figures

The most important key figures provide you with a compact summary of the topic of "Plastic waste in the UK" and take you straight to the corresponding statistics.

Plastic waste collection

Marine waste and comparisons

Public opinions

Global comparison

Infographics on the topic

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