Plastic Pollution by Country 2022

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The world has a plastic pollution crisis. Since 1950, humans have produced more than 8 billion tons of plastic, more than half of which went straight to landfills and only about 9% of which was recycled. Plastic can wreak slow-but-certain havoc on an environment in multiple ways, from leaching toxic chemicals into the soil and groundwater to directly choking or poisoning animals who unwittingly ingest it. Larger, more populous countries tend to produce more plastic waste overall, but when the results are filtered to show the biggest producers per capita (i.e.: per person), the ranking changes significantly.

Top 10 Countries That Produce the Most Plastic Waste (Total million tons, 2016)

  1. United States — 34.02
  2. India — 26.33
  3. China — 21.60
  4. Brazil — 10.68
  5. Indonesia — 9.13
  6. Russia — 8.47
  7. Germany — 6.68
  8. United Kingdom — 6.47
  9. Mexico — 5.90
  10. Japan — 4.88

Top 10 Countries That Produce the Most Plastic Waste per Capita (kilograms per person, 2016)

  1. Micronesia — 308.25
  2. Bermuda — 205.93
  3. Palau — 170.19
  4. Faroe Islands — 167.53
  5. Hong Kong — 163.45
  6. Saint Kitts and Nevis — 150.01
  7. Iceland — 144.80
  8. Singapore — 143.96
  9. Mongolia — 137.58
  10. Puerto Rico — 134.10

Plastic pollution in the ocean

While plastic waste on land is undeniably a concern, a large percentage of plastic that isn’t recycled, incinerated (which emits pollutants), or sent to landfills ultimately ends up in the oceans, where it creates even larger problems. Plastic in the ocean can injure some animals outright and is frequently—and fatally—mistaken for food by others. For example, in 2019, a young Cuvier's beaked whale washed ashore in the Philippines and soon died. A necropsy revealed its stomach was clogged by more than 88 pounds (40 kg) of plastic trash. A similar tragedy occurred in Greece in 2021.

While many high-income countries generate high amounts of plastic waste per person, they are also typically better at processing it safely, whereas middle-income and low-income countries still developing their infrastructure tend to produce a higher percentage of mismanaged waste plastic, which is more likely to find its way from land into the ocean.

It is estimated that anywhere from 4.8 to 12.7 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean each year—but a 2017 study found that 80% of mismanaged plastic in the ocean came from just five Asian countries: China, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines. An updated study released in 2021 found similar results:

Top 10 Countries that Release the Most Plastic into the Ocean (tons 2021):

  1. Philippines — 356,371
  2. India — 126,513
  3. Malaysia — 73,098
  4. China — 70,707
  5. Indonesia — 56,333
  6. Brazil — 37,799
  7. Vietnam — 28,221
  8. Bangladesh — 24,640
  9. Thailand — 22,806
  10. Nigeria — 18,640

Per-country profiles in plastic pollution

China

In 2010, China produced the largest quantity of plastic at 59.08 million tons of plastic waste, nearly double that of the next-highest producer (the United States at 37.83 million tons). However, the country took decisive action to curb the creation of plastic waste, vowing to ban single-use, non-degradable bags in all major cities by the end of 2020 and in all cities and towns by 2022. Single-use plastic straws were also banned by the end of 2020.

By 2016, China's overall plastic waste production had fallen to 21.60 million tons, a reduction of nearly 28 million tons (for comparison, U.S. production fell less than 4 tons during the same time period). Moreover, despite being one of the largest overall producers of plastic waste, China's per capita production of plastic waste was one of the lowest in the world in 2016 at 15.6 kilograms a year per person.

United States

At 34.02 million tons, the United States was the largest producer of plastic waste in the world in 2016. The United States burns about six times more plastic waste than it recycles, a process that often releases harmful chemicals into the atmosphere, increasing the country's greenhouse gas emissions.

The United States, as well as other countries like Canada and the U.K., is known for exporting collected plastic waste to countries in Asia, where it is then recycled or disposed of, often improperly. This can create a distorted impression of how much waste is actually being generated by both the sending and receiving countries.

Germany

Germany produced 14.48 million tons of plastic waste in 2010, including 31,239 tons of plastic litter that was at risk of entering waterways. Germany’s daily plastic waste per person is one of the highest in the world at .46 kilograms. However, by 2016, the country's plastic waste creation had fallen to 6.68 million tons. Germany’s Environment Ministry introduced a five-point plan in 2018 that aims to further reduce the country’s plastic waste.

Brazil

Brazil, the fifth-largest country in the world, is also its fourth-largest producer of plastic waste. Brazil generates about 10.68 million tons of plastic waste per year and is estimated to recycle only 1.28% of its total plastic waste, meaning that the overwhelming majority ends up incinerated, buried in landfills, or polluting the land and sea.

Japan

Japan generated roughly 4.88 tons of plastic waste in 2016. Japan has more than 18,000 miles of coastline. Some point out that Japan’s obsession with hygiene causes many foods to be wrapped, rewrapped, and bagged in multiple layers of plastic. The Japanese government now has the goal of reducing plastic use by 25% by 2030.

Pakistan

Pakistan generated about 6.41 million tons of plastic waste in 2010, making it the sixth-largest producer of plastic waste, but fell to 16th in 2016 with a total of 2.73 million tons. Pakistan is also the sixth-largest country in the world. Pakistan is estimated to use about 55 million plastic bags annually. In August 2019, the Plastic-Bag Free Initiative was implemented to ban the manufacturing, sale, and purchase of plastic bags.

Russia

Russia's production rose from about 5.84 million tons of plastic waste in 2010 to nearly 8.47 million tons in 2016, making it one of the few countries whose production of plastic waste is increasing rather than decreasing. According to a report, up to 36.3 pieces of microplastic are found per kilogram of dry sediment in the Baltic Sea beaches in the Kaliningrad region. Local and volunteer-led efforts have started in Russia to help combat plastic pollution, but these efforts need to be scaled larger to be effective due to Russia’s size and population.

Turkey

Turkey generated about 5.6 billion tons of plastic waste in 2010. The average use of plastic bags in Turkey is 440 per person per year. As of January 1, 2019, the country banned single-use plastic bags and transitioned to reusable and paper bags in an effort to reduce plastic pollution. Plastic bags now cost 0.25 Turkish liras (0.036 U.S. dollars).

Egypt

Egypt was the tenth-largest producer of plastic waste in the world in 2010, generating about 5.46 million tons of plastic. Egypt was also the largest producer of plastic waste in the Arab world and the largest source of plastic pollution in the Mediterranean Sea.

Here are the 10 countries with the most plastic pollution:

  1. India (12,994,100 tons)
  2. China (12,272,200 tons)
  3. Philippines (4,025,300 tons)
  4. Brazil (3,296,700 tons)
  5. Nigeria (1,948,950 tons)
  6. Tanzania (1,716,400 tons)
  7. Turkey (1,656,110 tons)
  8. Egypt (1,435,510 tons)
  9. DR Congo (1,369,730 tons)
  10. Thailand (1,361,690 tons)

Plastic Pollution by Country 2022

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Plastic Pollution by Country 2022

Note: All values expressed in tons except waste per capita (kilograms). MPW stands for Mismanaged Plastic Waste, which indicates plastic waste that evades proper disposal or recycling and instead ends up decaying on land or, more frequently, in the ocean.
Country MPW released into oceans 2021 Total MPW created 2021 Plastic waste created 2016 Plastic waste per capita [kg] 2016 Plastic waste created 2010
India126,51312,994,10026,327,93319.884,493,080
China70,70712,272,20021,599,46515.6759,079,741
Philippines356,3714,025,3001,543,66814.892,565,766
Brazil37,7993,296,70010,675,98951.7811,852,055
Nigeria18,6401,948,9501,659,5028.92
Tanzania5,7851,716,400814,51115.35386,998
Turkey1,656,110959,51512.025,596,657
Egypt2,4711,435,5103,037,67532.165,464,471
DR Congo4201,369,7301,078,89213.691,059,795
Thailand22,8061,361,6904,796,49469.543,532,495
Pakistan8731,346,4602,731,76813.426,412,210
Vietnam28,2211,112,7901,404,8733,268,227
Bangladesh24,6401,021,990764,9514.841,888,170
Indonesia56,333824,2349,128,00034.905,045,714
Malaysia73,098814,4542,058,50167.092,031,675
Sudan106781,625371,1239.311,292,740
Algeria5,774764,5782,092,00751.591,898,343
South Africa4,266708,4671,425,32325.364,465,798
Venezuela5,988671,4311,160,8012,669,998
Cameroon10,671578,798119,5185335,305
Zimbabwe524,865413,802
Ghana4,185520,002211,5187.43357,877
Iran928495,9651,500,58518.863,919,268
Iraq67491,771738,89920.181,156,524
Argentina4,137465,8082,656,77160.952,753,550
Myanmar2,544434,432856,96116.161,373,018
Mozambique2,544434,432198,3657.13132,612
Mexico3,512430,6145,902,49047.863,725,463
Ukraine859393,7771,053,52323.411,724,509
Russia542363,3898,467,15658.665,839,685
Burkina Faso317,298239,32712.84
Guatemala7,142311,003488,39629.451,495,229
Morocco1,800295,488570,10216.23863,555
Yemen252291,737483,682887,497
Ivory Coast4,784291,614541,45322.73766,988
Kenya259289,9171,279,84326.09407,506
Tunisia688289,538303,84626.88559,235
United States2,431267,46934,020,748105.3037,825,550
Cambodia1,113247,49599,7486.33344,698
Haiti6,929237,968293,35127.06328,487
Angola860236,946651,92822.60528,843
Dominican Republic6,276194,018420,27640.42520,238
Libya879188,535181,48227.95324,250
Sri Lanka9,654155,466180,7018.522,621,606
Guinea2,347147,99737,6473.21118,196
Honduras2,436145,995311,54833.61565,317
Peru259140,313919,22229.721,543,879
Benin1,639133,335102,3019.41144,382
Jordan1124,425446,94146.79377,506
Togo436121,783116,94615.57135,294
Papua New Guinea3,059119,538105,24112.72267,234
Nicaragua1,465110,862205,54832.61299,480
Ecuador1,136108,797607,14836.82801,321
Uruguay99892,620139,88140.85310,379
Sierra Leone3,62491,23962,1908.4996,655
Colombia43185,4541,728,87335.892,413,455
Eritrea4884,08858,06911.7272,120
Trinidad And Tobago3,55773,139140,174101.751,745,123
Albania1,56569,833113,09939.3273,364
Senegal16965,660220,86514.73485,586
Republic of the Congo67665,29187,63517.59
Comoros59,1584,6575.8550,599
Bosnia And Herzegovina655,551141,87941.90195,633
Kazakhstan1354,2421,281,50572.02
Romania8052,161615,75631.25310,385
Germany13450,6766,683,41281.1614,476,561
Jamaica2,33449,673128,30744.1534,962
Lebanon68446,622247,11236.82148,807
Liberia2,63839,93054,22111.82121,050
Italy41438,8033,365,13055.512,899,258
Panama5,23736,339181,99345.08192,818
Japan1,83535,6844,881,16138.447,993,489
Gambia42135,09522,63110.5329,646
Chile32230,767707,90338.88738,106
Lesotho30,3918,6224.16
United Kingdom70329,9146,471,65098.664,925,590
France23527,7802,929,04243.814,557,128
Guyana1,24627,56528,75037.27159,681
Madagascar77525,250282,65711.35123,526
Canada23823,587769,98421.321,154,309
Suriname1,67722,9339,08716.0931,300
El Salvador80821,693178,68728.11330,763
Namibia220,89249,17620.85114,222
Mauritania12720,796114,59827.5259,287
Guinea Bissau24720,46522,32312.5230,666
Spain23520,3501,832,53339.424,709,157
Croatia22417,544385,68692.39406,347
Timor Leste71517,24410,5398.64
Netherlands27115,2331,251,11473.462,572,398
Macau34114,74929,85748.7272,126
Poland2914,1241,341,57235.331,346,905
South Korea38712,1564,514,18688.092,025,772
Djibouti410,28917,52118.8631,999
Equatorial Guinea4059,40319,4471649,990
Taiwan5317,5021,392,82859.13
Saudi Arabia37,1761,810,10155.791,561,618
Israel336,060958,005112.10826,436
Belize3746,02119,46452.8320,191
Gabon4455,99139,58519.7232,329
Hong Kong1125,7811,199,187163.451,020,406
Costa Rica4505,751167,85834.26428,029
Australia325,2661,035,08442.79900,658
United Arab Emirates145,1351,028,556109.88600,741
Greece2164,506789,09273.23811,858
Saint Lucia4494,27617,23995.7632,882
Sweden364,255291,29229.36164,305
Western Sahara384,114
Fiji3653,85815,47117.7359,324
Portugal763,818512,05749.591,022,683
Cape Verde3,56811,919
Solomon Islands1003,52042,95069.3419,842
Bulgaria73,117370,49351.98415,707
Ireland1152,675391,49682.33715,716
Kuwait72,640458,078115.77750,690
Finland2,62140,1597.31458,084
Singapore1642,468807,202143.96359,483
Belgium342,284663,51158.55318,151
Bahamas202,21234,31390.7951,364
Palestine1182,129231,30787,636
Sao Tome And Principe772,0692,64613.026,571
Samoa1,7383,76519.367,000
Slovakia1,719199,50036.74
New Zealand681,714270,55057.65525,630
Qatar1,532167,33263.04103,933
Norway1,49449,8789.53499,682
Grenada1301,3575,30748.1312,417
Puerto Rico711,293456,822134.10342,306
Oman11,251405,08190.4493,251
Saint Vincent And the Grenadines811,2352,66824.378,818
Dominica531,0822,16730.393,885
Bahrain1,04370,44449.4159,785
Lithuania71,037134,04346.73149,227
Latvia995566,60033.9994,935
Barbados4587230,569106.9658,164
Slovenia11844115,62855.99108,421
Cyprus383781,47369.62100,713
Brunei13469234,60082.423,688
Tonga6662,39223.658,476
Antigua And Barbuda26274,32145.7122,804
Estonia1260088,50067.2685,534
Syria44502269,48015.441,365,594
Micronesia3744733,974308.253,895
Denmark939072,89612.7395,171
North Korea50322484,700
Georgia330725,6376.8897,443
Mauritius29954,25442.94104,971
Malta25932,45371.2732,377
Reunion233
Guadeloupe4162
Iceland15148,572144.8032,620
Martinique22139
French Guiana7126
Palau71163,017170.191,076
Saint Kitts And Nevis1977,744150.0112,280
Kiribati745,89452.383,859
Maldives606,74014.1743,134
Somalia242174,45712.30237,569
Seychelles335,33856.3811,730
Montenegro1662,544100.5032,557
Marshall Islands161,12719.513,674
Saint Martin82,41566.97
Monaco550713.313,412
Sint Maarten33,263
Ethiopia154,7431.49
Uganda636,50616.05
Afghanistan405,25411.45
Uzbekistan115,5653.63
Nepal267,8239.82
Niger85,6284.125,961,750
Mali44,1522.46
Malawi106,1406.17
Zambia305,198
Chad98,7466.78
Rwanda328,87328.18
Burundi103,2539.84
Bolivia232,09221.04
South Sudan214,11919.77
Cuba270,53323.87368,154
Czech Republic74,5737.06
Azerbaijan228,30423.40
Tajikistan176,17920.34
Hungary483,04649.22
Belarus507,33453.39
Austria542,46162.09
Switzerland911,616108.87
Serbia295,23041.83
Laos22,2323.25
Paraguay214,18931.60
Kyrgyzstan126,05920.74
Turkmenistan12,4002.19
Central African Republic83,04118.30
Moldova462,287130.15
Mongolia420,500137.58
Armenia57,17419.47
Botswana24,74111.45
North Macedonia110,72553.21
Eswatini21,38419.20
Bhutan19,84426.94
Luxembourg64,974111.64
Vanuatu4,53016.2725,443
New Caledonia17,50463.2922,995
French Polynesia2,79210.1724,634
Guam16,684102.3914,666
Curacao3,97324.8913,678
Aruba13,899132.539,352
Isle of Man6,91883.07
Andorra4,92663.73
Cayman Islands8,376133.865,106
Bermuda13,294205.935,990
Northern Mariana Islands5,10290.805,006
Greenland1,28622.905,234
American Samoa2,43143.61
Faroe Islands8,071167.534,466
Turks And Caicos Islands2,851
Liechtenstein1,91650.89
San Marino96228.71
Gibraltar2,97588.203,053
British Virgin Islands2,64390.052,504
Tuvalu65858.64554
Nauru88868.08527

Plastic Pollution by Country 2022

Sources