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Asia Produces Half the Plastic in the World

This article is published in collaboration with Statista

by Katharina Buchholz

Data from manufacturers’ association Plastics Europe shows that 51 percent of the world's plastic was produced in Asia in 2019. China, responsible for 31 percent of the world's plastics production, produced 82 kg per capita, while Japan at only 3 percent of global production managed to produce 88 kg.

Japan is also the country with the most plastic packaging waste per capita in the world behind the U.S., according to the U.N. NAFTA countries produced 19 percent of the world's plastic in total, but the equivalent of 141 kg per capita in 2019 - the highest per-person toll.

Supermarkets in these developed nations certainly tell the story of heavy plastic use, with many individually wrapped items and ready-to-go meals in single-use packaging on display. This is especially visible in Japan as well as the U.S. The Japanese government revealed a proposal in 2018 to reduce plastic waste by 25 percent until 2030 and has introduced a mandatory fee for plastic shopping bags. Similar laws have already been implemented in 66 percent of countries worldwide. In Japan, though, the mandatory minimum fee per bag will be a very low one Yen (approximately one cent U.S.).

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