Plastic facts

Single use plastic is one of the biggest environmental problems in the world.

Facts about plastic 

The proliferation of plastic products in the last several decades has been extraordinary. Quite simply, humans are addicted to this nearly indestructible material. We are producing over 300 million tons of plastic every year, 50% of which is for single-use purposes – utilized for just a few moments, but on the planet for at least several hundred years. More than 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year.

Plastic is cheap and incredibly versatile with properties that make it ideal for many applications. However, these qualities have also resulted in it becoming an environmental issue. We have developed a “disposable” lifestyle and estimates are that around 50% of plastic is used just once and thrown away.

  • 73% of beach litter worldwide is plastic.

  • 38 million plastic bottles go to landfill each year in America alone.

  • Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the Earth four times.

  • 24,000,000 liters of oil is needed to produce these billions of plastic bottles.

  • One million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed annually from plastic in our oceans.

  • 14% of all litter comes from beverage containers. When caps and labels are considered, the number is higher.

On 24 October 2018, Members of the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of earlier proposals from the European Commission to cut plastics waste, targeting in particular single-use plastic litter polluting Europe’s beaches and seas.

In some parts of the world, using plastic is already illegal.
Kenya introduced one of the world’s toughest laws against plastic bags in 2017. Now, Kenyans who are caught producing, selling, or even using plastic bags will risk imprisonment of up to four years or fines of $40,000 (£31,000).

Other countries that have banned, partially banned, or taxed single-use plastic bags include China, France, Rwanda, and Italy.

  • Plastic bottles require up to 700 years to dissolve.

  • According to the Container Recycling Institute, 100.7 billion plastic beverage bottles were sold in the U.S. in 2014, or 315 bottles per person.

  • 93 percent of Americans age six or older test positive for BPA (a plastic chemical).

  • Did you know that roughly half of the annual plastic production—in 2016, around 335 million metric tons—is destined for a single-use product?

European Union Study on Plastic pollution

Plastics are an important material in our economy, and modern daily life is unthinkable without them. At the same time however, they can have serious downsides on the environment and health. Action on plastics was identified as a priority in the Circular Economy Action Plan, to help European businesses and consumers to use resources in a more sustainable way.

The first-ever European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy adopted on January 2018 will transform the way plastic products are designed, used, produced and recycled in the EU. Better design of plastic products, higher plastic waste recycling rates, more and better quality recyclates will help boosting the market for recycled plastics. It will deliver greater added value for a more competitive, resilient plastics industry.


The strategy is part of Europe’s transition towards a circular economy, and will also contribute to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals, the global climate commitments and the EU’s industrial policy objectives. This strategy will help protect our environment, reduce marine litter, greenhouse gas emissions and our dependence on imported fossil fuels. It will support more sustainable and safer consumption and production patterns for plastics.

  • In the North Pacific Ocean, there are 6x more plastic debris than plankton.

  • We have an island in the middle of the North Pacific Gyre, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – which is mostly composed of plastic. It’s the size of India, Europe and Mexico combined.

  • There is more microplastic in the ocean than there are stars in the Milky Way.

  • If plastic production isn’t curbed, plastic pollution will outweigh fish pound for pound by 2050

Let’s get in contact
send me a message
+31624845535 (Also Whatsapp)

Gerco Leeflang

European Project Director