Plastic waste in Europe - Statistics & Facts

Since plastics became popular more than half a century ago, production has increased significantly. In 1950, global production amounted to 1.5 million metric tons, and by 2018 had increased to 359 million metric tons. Of this total, 61.8 million metric tons were produced in Europe. Plastic converter demand in Europe amounted to approximately 51.2 million metric tons in 2018, with plastic packaging making up 39.9 percent of this.

Germany was the country that generated the largest amount of plastic packaging in Europe, at nearly 3.2 million metric tons. Generally, the volume of plastic packaging sent to landfill sites in the EU-28 has decreased over the past decade, dropping to 3.3 million metric tons in 2018, compared to 7.2 million metric tons in 2006. In the same period, plastic packaging treated by recycling increased from 3.9 million metric tons to 7.5 million metric tons.

The recycling rate of plastic packaging throughout Europe had increased significantly between 2006 and 2016, rising to 42.4 percent in 2016, before declining for the first time in 2017. Lithuania was the country with the highest plastic packaging recycling rate, whilst fellow Baltic state Estonia had the lowest rate.

According to a survey conducted in 2018, 84 percent of respondents in Great Britain expressed concern with the use of plastic packaging, plastic bags, and other disposable objects. In comparison, 23 percent of respondents in Poland were not concerned with this issue.

Interesting statistics

In the following 3 chapters, you will quickly find the 20 most important statistics relating to "Plastic waste in Europe".

Plastic waste in Europe

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 Europe" and take you straight to the corresponding statistics.

Recycling and treatment

Marine waste


Get in touch with us. We are happy to help.

Statista Locations
ContactEsther Shaulova
Esther Shaulova
Operations Manager– Contact (United States)

Mon - Fri, 9am - 6pm (EST)

ContactZiyan Zhang
Ziyan Zhang
Customer Relations– Contact (Asia)

Mon - Fri, 11:30am - 10pm (IST)

ContactLodovica Biagi
Lodovica Biagi
Director of Operations– Contact (Europe)

Mon - Fri, 9:30am - 5pm (GMT)

ContactCatalina Rodriguez
Catalina Rodriguez
Key Account Manager - LATAM– Contact (Latin America)

Mon - Fri, 9am - 6pm (EST)