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10-21-2019

Plastic Waste Worldwide

New Study Presents Preliminary Baseline Figures

  • 360 million t of plastic are produced globally. Added to the 360 million t of new material are an additional 30 million t of recyclates, therefore a total of 390 million t of plastics are processed annually. The total of plastics goods used leads to around 250 million t of consumer-related plastics waste annually. Of this, 173 million t of plastic waste are collected. 63 million t of plastic waste are disposed of improperly, for example through illegal dumping, and 14 million t are thrown away carelessly (© IK)

  • Europe is responsible for about one sixth (16.8%) of the world's plastic waste, Asia together with Oceania for about the half (© IK)

  • The recycling of plastic waste varies considerably from country to country (© IK)

  • The study partly relates plastic waste to the total amount of waste and distinguishes packaging applications from other applications (© IK)

  • Partners of the study (© IK)

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In order to manage and optimize the flows of material specifically for this purpose, the volumes of material flows as well as leakage into the environment need to be known. Starting from this shared objective, six associations and organizations in the plastics value chain commissioned a pilot study to investigate global flows of plastics, including the handling of post-consumer plastic waste. The findings were published during the world’s leading trade show, K 2019.

Figures from 44 Countries

“The Global Plastics Flow Study is the first of its kind to document facts and figures about the circular economy in 44 countries around the world in a uniform and comprehensive manner and to clearly identify traditional weaknesses in collecting and reusing waste,” said Dr Jürgen Bruder, General Manager of IK – German Association for Plastics Packaging and Films, and Project Manager for the study, explaining the unique contribution of the survey to the fight against environmental littering.

“The volumes of waste escaping into the environment are dramatic and must be a wake-up call for the entire value chain. Waste management in all its forms must be the common goal of business leaders and politicians. The study’s findings clearly identify hot spots requiring urgent action to reduce unregulated waste management.” What is special about the study is that the findings were not generated from a helicopter perspective, but are the result of extensive regional surveys. The measures to be taken are as varied as the findings: while waste collection needs to be given priority in some regions of the world, Europe, for example, faces the challenge of expanding recycling and enforcing a ban on landfill.

The study was prepared by Conversio Market & Strategy GmbH in close cooperation with the associations of the Global Plastics Alliance and a large number of other institutions. For the latest data, it was possible to process information about plastics from production to disposal from 44 countries that together represent around 60% of the world’s population and around 80% of global GDP.

The summary of the study is available for download at: www.k-online.com/GPFStudy

Company profile

ik Industrievereinigung Kunststoffverpackungen e.V.

Kaiser-Friedrich-Promenade 43
DE 61348 Bad Homburg
Tel.: 06172 9266-01

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