Plastic productionAnnual global plastic production reached a high of 368 million metric tons in 2019, having experienced a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of roughly 3.5 percent from 2010. However, the plastics industry was disrupted in 2020 due to the outbreak of COVID-19, which caused global output to decrease by an estimated 0.3 percent compared to 2019. China is the leading producer of plastics, accounting for roughly 31 percent of global production. Despite the economic impacts of the pandemic, the production of plastic products in China increased during 2020. In comparison, plastic production in Europe continued to decrease, falling by an estimated five percent compared to 2019. North America (NAFTA) is the second-largest producer, with plastic production in the United States amounting to more than 56 million metric tons in 2019.
Although there are thousands of different plastics, there are approximately seven broader types of plastic that are produced and consumed in large quantities: polyethylene terephthalate (PET), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), low-density polyethylene (LDPE), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene/styrofoam (PS), and miscellaneous plastics. Polyethylene (PE) is the most widely produced plastic worldwide and is used to produce many products, such as packaging. The second-most produced plastic is polypropylene (PP), of which more than 70 million metric tons worth was produced in 2020.