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Plastic Pollution by Country 2024

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 (tons)

Country
Plastic Waste
China37.6M
United States22.9M
India7.4M
Brazil4.9M
Mexico4M
Japan3.8M
Germany3.6M
Indonesia3.4M
Thailand3.4M
Italy3.3M

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

Country
Plastic Consumption
Macau328.00
Palau167.80
Hong Kong167.00
Bermuda166.80
Saint Kitts and Nevis160.20
Faroe Islands155.20
Moldova151.10
Puerto Rico132.20
Iceland128.90
Mongolia127.60

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:

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 fifth most populated country in the world (as of 2022). 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.

  • Mismanaged = The sum of uncollected and improperly managed waste
  • Mismanaged Waste Index (MWI) = The sum of uncollected and improperly managed waste, divided by the waste generated
  • Waste export = Plastic waste collected in the country and exported abroad. It does not include the reexport of imported waste
  • Waste import = Import of plastic waste from other countries

Download Table Data

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Country
MWI
MWI Status
Plastic Waste (tons)
Mismanaged Waste (tons)
Plastic Consumption (Kg/Capita/Year)
Exported Plastic Waste (tons)
Imported Plastic Waste (tons)
Released Into Waterway (tons)
From Chemical Additives (tons)
Solomon Islands100.00Very High40.2K4022458.20337245
Suriname100.00Very High8.6K864814.2059053
Mozambique99.85Very High105.2K1050743.40$8606403,671641
Madagascar99.81Very High299.8K29923210.60$2,4003,3491,825
Uganda99.71Very High59.8K596131.30$510304,758364
Tanzania99.61Very High126.9K1264322.10$3,0302007,298771
Haiti99.61Very High126.9K1264322.10$3,0302007,298771
Nigeria99.44Very High935.8K9306244.50$7,49096027,6855,677
Tajikistan99.25Very High142.2K14112914.909301,743861
Myanmar99.18Very High498.4K4943359.30$6,12030,49014,3483,015
Kenya98.90Very High270.9K2678615.20$2,170507,5121,634
Micronesia98.74Very High3.5K342030.9019521
Togo98.69Very High110.9K10945113.10$890994668
India98.55Very High7.4M73007525.30$59,26098,860330,76444,535
Bangladesh98.54Very High579.9K5714533.502,86047,8303,486
Ecuador98.50Very High251.3K24751214.30$6,4007,6004,6301,510
Thailand98.49Very High3.4M330494546.90$132,630179,08026,46320,160
Kyrgyzstan98.47Very High118.6K11681718.00$1,6901,974713
Mongolia98.47Very High420.5K414064127.60$3,3608,4342,526
Indonesia98.42Very High3.4M331374212.40$26,94079,08080,41420,214
Philippines98.37Very High938.2K9229698.40$78,5407,95031,8075,630
Iraq98.35Very High695.1K68366416.304808,9504,170
Niger98.24Very High37.3K366561.501,304224
Uzbekistan98.23Very High100K982252.90$80014,4008,212599
Jamaica98.18Very High50.3K4934817.80$4,1601,204301
Afghanistan98.06Very High447.8K43909711.508509,1012,678
Azerbaijan98.01Very High230.6K22603422.80$1,8403,9103,5301,379
Brazil97.97Very High4.9M481193623.00$39,2901,25053,70829,353
Ivory Coast97.95Very High473.2K46351117.70$3,7903,2107,1022,827
Russia97.82Very High3.2M309497622.00$25,31012,18047,98718,879
Oman97.82Very High364.3K35637580.204,2492,174
Yemen97.80Very High384.8K37631811.903,5812,296
Armenia97.76Very High56.2K5491820.00$4501301,433335
DR Congo97.75Very High1.1M111864012.30$3010,4566,824
Guinea97.61Very High23.9K233071.801201,110142
Chad97.37Very High81.5K793884.902,976484
Senegal97.36Very High220.9K21504513.40$3,7001,9761,312
South Sudan97.34Very High213.3K20757420.107301,4611,266
Eritrea97.34Very High57.8K5629116.3031,383343
Somalia97.32Very High185K18008011.208,2801,098
Central African Republic97.30Very High88K8560616.50603592
Guinea Bissau97.28Very High23K2240611.40241137
Gambia97.27Very High18.8K182527.30186111
Burundi97.24Very High65.5K637125.40$520960389
Malawi97.23Very High103.2K1003925.30$8301402,255612
Sierra Leone97.17Very High48.5K471695.90773288
Mali97.11Very High38.7K376261.80$2,740602,133230
Liberia97.09Very High44.9K435998.80578266
Comoros97.06Very High4.6K44175.6013627
Rwanda96.55Very High348.8K33680626.50$2,7901,6142,055
Ethiopia96.41Very High150.3K1448671.30$5,26013,381884
Uruguay96.08Very High123.3K11850636.00$9903103,095723
Vanuatu95.82Very High4.5K434014.5024526
Namibia95.57Very High31.5K3012012.70$25017021,653184
Lesotho95.18Very High7.8K74503.501,47345
Botswana94.86Very High25.9K2455310.20$2601101,175150
Mauritania94.75Very High90.8K8603220.20764525
Syria94.59Very High315K29794415.202,6791,817
Peru94.49Very High597.7K56472217.90$4,7805,2308,2513,445
Angola94.37Very High568.8K53682117.00$4,5502108,1843,275
Kazakhstan94.14Very High1.2M109665162.10$9,3201058,8786,690
Burkina Faso94.05Very High231.8K21797410.80$1,8501704,1401,330
Zambia94.01Very High277.9K26128414.70$2,840502,6301,594
Nepal93.84Very High267.8K2513259.10$2,1408,9951,533
Kuwait93.66Very High350K32779880.30$9,3803,4672,000
Sri Lanka92.09Very High184.2K1696458.40$1,47010,3691,035
Cambodia91.89Very High93.7K860555.70$8,0704,829525
Panama91.56Very High85.4K7815819.903,133477
Pakistan91.53Very High790.1K7232133.50$6,3204,79058,4874,412
United Arab Emirates90.94Very High1.1M981877116.30$13,2509,3009,3005,989
Montenegro89.95Very High61.2K5501198.40$490300655336
Moldova89.82Very High398.1K357604151.10$3,1801,0552,181
Egypt89.37Very High834.7K7459857.80$7095031,4514,551
Benin89.21Very Low50.1K446694.00$40080805272
Dominican Republic89.16Very High406.4K36233049.3013,3382,210
Zimbabwe88.78Very High333.4K29601621.30$2,6703307,9121,806
Sao Tome and Principe88.35Very High2.7K2 40912.5019615
Timor Leste88.30Very High10.5K93068.1056317
Djibouti88.20Very High2.3K1080911.2080566
Gabon88.10Very High29.2K2575212.708,358157
Ghana87.98Very High141.5K1245224.40$1,1309104,026760
Trinidad and Tobago87.90Very High139.5K12265591.901,752748
Republic of the Congo87.79Very High48.1K422108.40655257
Cameroon87.46Very High107.9K944004.10307,425576
Kiribati87.26Very High5.9K514346.6028231
Nicaragua87.12Very High162.9K14193224.10$11,2401,0101,244866
Iran84.41Very High1.3M110209315.0019,6846,723
Eswatini84.21Very High23.3K1958019.70$93060435119
Marshall Islands83.00Very High1.1K93025.804,1766
Cape Verde82.54Very High14.1K1165924.2025271
South Africa81.81Very High1M82894917.20$8,1105,60012,7655,057
Maldives81.09Very High6.3K514512.30$24067231
Papua New Guinea80.58Very High100K8058310.3012,813492
Sudan80.53Very High359.6K2895808.106,7221,766
Bhutan80.32Very High14.5K1162318.7017037371
Georgia80.27Very High24K192656.40$1,210101,110118
Laos79.74High21.5K171162.90$2,2001,7102,197104
Guatemala79.72High476.7K37997528.30$7,3808804,6002,318
Tunisia79.47High179.9K14294714.80$14,39097,492872
Tonga79.33High2.3K183321.9049311
Qatar77.34High166K12840160.103,399783
Malaysia76.40High1.4M104773541.30$25,650589,97011,7896,391
Morocco74.41High548.2K40788414.90$4,3902,5305,9802,488
French Polynesia74.35High2.9K21869.70$40010,59913
Cuba73.81High258.5K19080522.903,3811,164
Bolivia73.04High226.2K16521418.90$1,8102,2251,008
Romania72.44High510.3K36964226.50$25,55054,92020,7572,255
Bosnia and Herzegovina72.42High153.3K11101946.20$6,56014,249677
Honduras71.88High311.5K22393930.80$2,49019,8801,9031,366
Saudi Arabia70.23High2.1M147856858.50$43,5303026,7379,019
Albania69.90High109.7K7669238.701,431468
Cayman Islands67.95High6.6K448498.102,68327
Paraguay67.64High223.2K15100833.70$1,7901,5402,163921
Mexico67.24High4M272310432.10$200,88026,09036,23816,611
Macau67.09High221.9K148850328.001,884908
Belize66.81High19.3K1286848.80$53054778
Equatorial Guinea64.53High24.4K1571915.3074596
Colombia62.42High769.3K48024715.10$6,15010012,4252,930
Jordan61.64High404.8K24953637.00$3,2402,4421,522
Fiji60.56High14.2K860215.40$1,17021,71052
Ukraine59.39Medium1.1M63369624.20$8,54037,14032,8663,866
Greece58.76Medium350.8K20614132.80$22,6703,20011,9281,257
San Marino56.97Medium96254828.301,0793
Libya55.21Medium161.1K8892824.203,396542
Bulgaria54.77Medium194.4K10650428.00$5,91024,3202,763650
Serbia54.42Medium234.2K12746034.00$9,94018,7008,447778
Venezuela53.21Medium1.2M63879042.108,0293,897
American Samoa53.03Medium2.4K128952.604828
Lebanon48.26Medium234.6K11322841.40$8,3503701,798691
Turkey48.03Medium938.5K45080311.20$9,580429,77019,8272,750
Andorra44.77Medium4.9K217662.501,12313
New Caledonia44.74Medium17.8K798465.801,42649
Samoa41.53Medium3.6K147916.605249
North Macedonia41.52Medium97.8K4060347.20$7,82059014,812248
Turkmenistan41.28Medium10.9K45201.802,16928
Argentina40.77Medium1.2M50398727.20$9,89023,6413,074
Palau39.08Low3K1179167.803,2107
El Salvador38.68Low164.9K6378426.20$10,3102,2001,338389
Faroe Islands36.01Low8.1K2930155.201,09318
Liechtenstein35.40Low1.7K61945.101,0824
Chile35.19Low609.4K21448231.60$7,6001,0609,7161,308
Brunei32.42Low34.6K1121678.30$4001,62468
Vietnam32.01Low3M94495930.50$131,330713,98027,1305,764
Belarus30.33Low513.6K15578654.80$20,26010,8906,295950
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines30.18Low2.7K80025.308,9015
Estonia28.33Low34.4K974925.90$6,3501,3704,96959
Saint Lucia26.09Low17.1K445495.3050127
Guyana25.57Low25.5K650831.9065540
Latvia24.04Low66K1586534.70$14,72036,48014,01297
Puerto Rico22.89Low433.8K99289132.202,839606
Dominica22.59Low2.1K47629.30$13,1404733
Croatia22.30Low100.1K2231424.70$8,6803,5804,875136
Italy22.03Low3.3M73473356.10$156,940141,81055,7044,482
British Virgin Islands21.95Low1.3K29243.001,0602
Costa Rica21.53Low160.6K3458231.30$22,7309701,696211
Sint Maarten21.23Low2.1K43863.401,0923
Gibraltar21.23Low2.7K57182.201,0793
Seychelles19.64Low4.8K93348.301,1216
Cyprus19.11Low43.8K836435.40$4,5801,0202,10351
Guam18.11Low17.5K3177103.701,69519
China17.41Low37.6M654626426.70$496,4801,273,710517,69939,932
Bahamas17.02Low39.6K673897.401,25341
Spain16.92Low1.6M26742533.40$57,160141,75042,7351,631
Mauritius15.47Low54.3K840242.90$1,80075951
Poland13.49Very Low1.3K17736534.70$130,100214,85035,3881,082
Algeria12.82Very Low2.1M26828548.1013,7471,637
United Kingdom12.31Very Low2.1M25661031.10$149,23045,72059,5461,565
Portugal12.09Very Low344.9K4168733.50$32,4704,34010,450254
Japan10.87Very Low3.8M41377030.20$675,6602,540172,8722,524
Barbados10.64Very Low29.9K3180106.50$1,0001,19819
New Zealand10.45Very Low154.1K1610330.30$20,9603407,39098
Slovakia9.90Very Low196.2K1942635.90$44,43031,0105,944118
Australia9.29Very Low1.2M10785145.20$165,69017,02033,117658
Switzerland8.91Very Low312.5K2785336.20$30,1605,0708,550170
United States8.71Very Low22.9M199214469.00$380,350264,760254,66712,152
Germany8.34Very Low3.6M29755942.90$428,860294,02074,3091,815
Ireland8.31Very Low333.9K2773467.00$41,38065,8005,760169
Malta7.07Very Low32.3K228462.60$2,1701,71214
Slovenia6.34Very Low83.2K527039.60$72,05061,6204,00632
Lithuania6.26Very Low131.9K825447.20$32,90037,9103,66750
Belgium5.72Very Low656.3K3756156.90$297,950148,57011,168229
France5.08Very Low2.7M13623939.70$314,320101,04060,757831
Saint Kitts and Nevis5.03Very Low7.6K384160.201,0772
Singapore4.97Very Low593.9K29525104.40$24,4503,1508,600180
Netherlands4.71Very Low989.4K4656156.70$263,060337,75016,391284
Bahrain4.63Very Low70.4K326147.70$7102,19820
Taiwan4.49Very Low1.5M6663562.0032,765406
Greenland4.49Very Low1.2K5421.301,095
Israel4.12Very Low972K40010105.50$15,3204808,582244
Austria4.12Very Low408.4K1683645.80$129,82098,8108,796103
Canada2.57Very Low2.1M5406155.40$386,440426,44029,422330
Antigua and Barbuda2.55Very Low4K10142.901,1211
Czech Republic1.89Very Low475.2K899644.40$643,420675,87010,53855
Norway1.75Very Low289K506853.70$62,7806,9905,72731
Denmark1.56Very Low228.3K355239.20$184,56014,96013,78622
Sweden1.49Very Low288K430427.80$86,12015,6409,83826
Finland1.40Very Low205.1K286337.10$70,36015,4205,96317
Hungary1.32Very Low482.6K638149.50$21,98015,51011,99039
Iceland0.97Very Low47.3K459128.90$7,6501,3473
Hong Kong0.91Very Low1.2M11410167.0011,01770
Bermuda0.13Very Low10.7K14166.801,101
Luxembourg0.12Very Low64.1K74101.60$10,4701,1401,560
showing: 202 rows

Which country produces the most plastic in the world?

The United States produces the most plastic waste globally, while Micronesia produces the most plastic per capita.

Frequently Asked Questions

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