Plastic waste in Europe - Statistics & Facts

Published by Ian Tiseo, Feb 19, 2019
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 2017 had increased to 348 million metric tons. Of this total, 64 million metric tons were produced in Europe. Plastic converter demand in Europe amounted to approximately 49 million metric tons in 2015, with plastic packaging making up 39.7 percent of this.

Interesting statistics

In the following 4 chapters, you will quickly find the 31 most important statistics relating to "Plastic waste in Europe".


In the same year, plastic packaging made up 59 percent of all European plastic waste generation. The country that generated the largest amount of plastic packaging was Germany. The generation of plastic packaging waste has increased since 2005, and by 2015 amounted to 15.91 million metric tons.

The volume of plastic packaging sent to landfill sites in the EU-28 has decreased over the past decade, dropping to 3.4 million metric tons in 2016, 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 6.8 million metric tons.

The recycling rate of plastic packaging throughout Europe has increased significantly since 2006, rising to 42.4 percent in 2016. The country with the highest plastic packaging recycling rate was Lithuania, whilst Estonia had the lowest rate.

Regarding marine waste, plastic/polystyrene pieces made up 24.79 percent of all marine litter found on beaches in Europe. The average number of plastic caps found per 100 meters of beach in Europe was highest in Sweden. Cigarette butts were a big issue with beach waste and made up 51 percent of single-use plastic littering on Baltic Sea beaches.

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.

Plastic waste in Europe

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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

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