Plastic Water Bottle Pollution Facts & Statistics 2023
Discover how many plastic bottles are used each year in the world, how many end up in the ocean, and the environmental impact.
A million plastic bottles are purchased across the world every minute of the day, and the worrying fact is that this number will grow a further 20% by 2023. Worst still, 90% of plastic bottles used aren’t even recycled and end up in landfills across our planet, sitting there and taking around 1,000 years to biodegrade. Plastic bottles that don’t end up in landfills end up polluting our oceans, killing our environment, injuring, and killing marine animals. It’s believed the Great Pacific Garbage patch covers a surface area of 1.6 million square kilometres which is three times the size of France.
There are more reasons for us to recycle plastic bottles or use alternatives because it takes around 1.5 million barrels of oil every single year to manufacture the bottles. To add to this more oil is burned transporting the bottles around the globe. The next time you think you’ll buy a drink that comes in a plastic bottle, think again. Just maybe, you can reduce the 20,000 bottles that are bought every second.
In this study, we’ve pulled all the relevant plastic bottle statistics that show its effect on people’s health, the environment, and ways to change.
Quick Snapshot Statistics
How long does it take for a plastic bottle to decompose?
The average time for a plastic bottle to completely decompose is about 450 years. Some plastics take longer than others to degrade, for some bottles it can take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade. 90% of all plastic bottles don’t even get recycled!
How many plastic bottles are used each day?
Around 60 million plastic bottles end up in landfills every single day, and Americans alone send more than 38 billion water bottles to landfills every year, the equivalent of 912 million gallons of oil. That means that 1,500 plastic bottles are thrown away every second of the day.
How many plastic bottles are in the ocean?
The number of plastic bottles in the sea is unknown, but over 250 billion were not recycled. Around 8-9 million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year. That’s the equivalent of a garbage truck emptying plastic into the ocean every single minute.
How much plastic will be in the ocean in 2050?
In the year 2050, plastic in our oceans will outweigh fish with 8-9 metric tons entering the sea every 12 months. The World Economic Forum predicts that the ocean will contain around 937 million tons of plastic and only 895 million tons of fish.
How many plastic bottles are used each year?
It’s estimated that around 13 billion plastic bottles are used in the UK every year. Unfortunately only around 7.5 billion of which are recycled. The remaining 5.5 billion end up in landfills or the ocean.
Popular Plastic Bottle Pollution Statistics
- The average person uses 156 plastic bottles per year.
- By 2050, there will be more plastic in the oceans than there are fish according to environmental scientists.
- 1 million plastic bottles are purchased in the US every minute according to Earth Day organizers.
- 50 billion water bottles were sold in the US every 12 months.
- 7.7 billion plastic water bottles are used in the UK every 12 months.
- 8 million tons of plastic end up in the world’s oceans every 12 months.
- 300 million tons of plastic waste is produced each year around the world.
- 13 billion bottles are used each year in the UK, with just 57% / 7.5 billion being recycled
- 1,500 plastic bottles are thrown away every second of every day.
- 480 billion plastic bottles were bought across the world during 2019
- By 2022, the consumption of plastic bottles is set to hit half a trillion every year. This far outstrips recycling efforts and will massively jeopardize our environment and the planet’s oceans.
- 91% of the world’s plastic bottles are not recycled.
- It can take up to 300 years for a bottle to fragment, and after it does it still never disappears.
What do you want to know?
How Many Plastic Bottles Are Used Each Year
It’s overwhelming to think that 1,000 people open a bottled water every second in the US, but this means that the average American uses 156 plastic bottles every year. All this contributes to a massive 500 billion plastic bottles being used each year.
- 1,000 people open a bottle of water every second of the day in the US
- 500 billion plastic bottles are used every year
- The average person uses 156 plastic bottles per year.
- There are 66 times as many bottles as there are humans on our planet
- 60 million plastic water bottles are thrown away each day in America.
- 35 billion empty water bottles are thrown away in the US each year, with only 12% being recycled.
- Only 50% of everything we put into our recycle bins at home actually gets recycled
- The average person drinks around 30 gallons of bottled water per year
- Despite the US making up 5% of the world’s population, they consume 30% of the plastic waste per year.
- Plastic waste constitutes 90% of all the rubbish floating in our ocean, with approximately 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile
- 40,000 eighteen-wheeled trucks are used every week to deliver bottled water across the US
- Americans drink more bottled water than they do milk or beer and bottled water consumption has been rising by 10% each year.
- For seafood lovers, its calculated that you’ll eat up to 11,000 tiny pieces of plastic each year
- A third of all fish caught around the UK contains plastic
In the US around 60 million water bottles are used each day, with only 12% of them actually being recycled. Meaning most ends up in landfills or ends up in the world’s ocean. Consumers think they are recycling, but in reality, only 50% of what we put into our recycle bins at home actually ends up being recycled. It’s not just the plastic that impacts the environment, the 40,000 trucks that are used every week to distribute water to the consumers just adds to the situation.
Recent studies by scientists at Ghent University in Belgium have found that seafood lovers can potentially ingest up to 11,000 tiny pieces of plastic every year. And a study by Plymouth University reported that a third of all fish caught in the UK contained plastic, including mackerel, shellfish, haddock, and cod.
Plastic Drink Bottle Pollution & Production
We found the most interesting bottle pollution fact is the amount of oil it takes to produce a single plastic bottle – if you fill a bottle so it’s 25% full, this represents the amount of oil it took to make it. If consumers knew about this, then they would certainly think twice about buying a bottle again. Plastic water bottle pollution continues to impact our environment every year, and yet consumer brands like Coca-Cola are reluctant to using RPet because it doesn’t represent their brand as it isn’t shiny or clear.
- Consumer packaging accounts for 40% of total plastic usage
- Coca-Cola produces 100 billion throwaway plastic bottles each year, that’s 3,400 every second!
- Plastic drinking bottles can be made from 100% recycled plastic, known as RPet
- The largest six drink companies across the world, only use a combined average of 6.6% recycled plastic in their packaging
- One third of these companies have no plans to increase their use of recycled plastic, and none are looking to use 100% recycled plastic in their packaging.
- Making bottles from recycled plastic uses 75% less energy than creating new plastic bottles
- It takes 3 times the amount of water in a bottle of water to make it than it does to actually fill it
- Plastic water bottles are manufactured from a petroleum product called polyethylene terephthalate (PET). This requires large amounts of fossil fuels to produce and transport them.
- Bottled water production uses 17 million barrels of oil per year.
- 2,000 times more energy is used to manufacture a bottle of water than it does to use tap water
- Fill a bottle of water 25% full, and that will be the amount of oil it took to produce the bottle.
Consumers need to start putting more pressure on manufactures because plastic bottle pollution is caused by the fact that only around 6.6% of the plastic bottles manufactured use recycled plastic.
How Many Plastic Bottles Are In In Landfills?
Every time we throw away a plastic bottle we are putting it into landfills, where it will take anywhere up to 1,000 years to decompose. During this time studies show that the toxins decomposing bottles of water leaks harmful chemicals into our environment. This in turn causes a variety of health issues, including reproductive problems and cancer. In reality, we are all destroying our planet, and without realizing it impacting our children’s future.
- 80% of all the plastic water bottles we consume end up in landfills.
- 80 billion of Coca-Cola’s plastic water bottles end up in a landfill.
- 14% of our rubbish is bottles, under 50% is collected for recycling and only 7% will become a new bottle.
- Landfills in the US are overflowing with over 2 million tons of water bottles that are thrown away.
- It can take up to 1,000 years for a single plastic bottle to decompose.
- Every bottle that is left in landfills leaks harmful chemicals into our environment.
With 80% of all plastic bottles entering landfills and 80 million Coca-Cola water bottles in landfills every year, that’s a serious problem that we need to tackle to protect generations to come.
How Many Plastic Bottles Are In The Ocean?
Billions of plastic bottles can be found are floating around the five ocean gyres which are poisoning marine wildlife while they feed in their habitat. Humans produce 78 million tons of plastic packaging every year, of which 32% of this and a massive 25 million tons ends up flowing into our oceans. This is the equivalent of pouring one rubbish truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
- 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic waste is estimated to be in oceans. 269,000 tons can be found floating, and 4 billion are microfibers per km² can be found below the surface.
- 25 million tons of plastic packaging ends up in our oceans every year.
- Items found include: Cigarette filters (32%), Food packaging (9%), Bottle caps (8%), Tableware (6%), Plastic bottles (6%), Plastic carrier bags (5%)
- By 2030 we will be pouring the equivalent of two garbage trucks of plastic into the ocean every minute, and four per minute if the planet reaches 2050.
- Its estimated that 46,000 pieces of plastic can be found in our oceans per squared mile
- Studies estimate that plastics make up anything from 60-90% of the marine pollution
What’s more shocking is that by 2050 this will rise to the equivalent of four garbage trucks pouring in plastic rubbish every minute!
How Many Animals Die From Plastic Waste Each Year?
Too many marine animals die from plastic waste each year, with around 100 million animals estimated to have died. Our plastic pollution is extremely dangerous for sea turtles because the decomposing plastic looks similar to their food, and they mistake this for a jellyfish. It’s not just marine animals affected by plastic, birds mistake plastics for fish eggs which they then feed to their chicks that will sadly cause organ failure and starvation.
- 100 million marine animals are estimated to die from plastic waste each year.
- Approximately 1 million sea birds will die from plastic each year.
- Sadly marine animals often mistake plastic for food, which they will then ingest or die from it clogging up their stomachs causing them to starve to death.
- Research shows that marine plastic pollution was found in 100% of turtles, 59% of all whales and 36% of seals. .
- 90% of all seabirds can be found with plastic pieces in their stomachs.
- Coral reefs house around 25% of all marine life, when it comes in contact with marine plastic, the probability of it dying jumps from 4% to a huge 89%.
If everyone knew that 100% of turtles in the ocean have plastic in their stomach, people might change their habits and start to change the way they live.
Plastic Bottle Facts: Pollution By Country
In the above charts, you’ll see the total plastic waste generated by each country, which is measured in tons per year. It’s hardly surprising that with the world’s biggest population, China is producing the largest quantity of plastic each year, totaling nearly 60 million tons. This is followed by the US with 38 million tons, Germany at 14.5 million, and Brazil at 12 million tons. When you start looking at waste per person and take into account the total population, it’s the UK and US that are causing the most damage to our oceans. US population is producing 0.34kg of plastic waste per person a day, followed by the UK at 0.21kg.
- China is the number 1 country for generating the most plastic waste, with a staggering 59 million tons per year
- US tops the table for the most waste per person contribution at 0.34kg per day.
- China per person contribution is actually fourth behind the US, UK and Brazil.
- 50% of all the world’s plastic is manufactured in Asia each year
- Chinese consumers purchased 73.8 billion bottles in 2016, an increase of 5.4 billion from 2015.
Interestingly the Chinese population is only producing around a third of plastic waste in comparison to the US population, with 0.12kg per day. Until the world powers start to act, and consumers begin voting with their feet ocean pollution will continue to increase.
Plastic Waste Statistics
Sadly, plastic waste statistics show that we have polluted every beach in the world, from busy tourist beaches to uninhabited islands. The fact that scientists have recently found microplastics embedded deep in the Arctic ice is very sad indeed. Plastic waste facts show that every day almost 8 million pieces of plastic pollute our oceans.
- 300 million tons of plastic is created every year, which weighs the same as the worlds population, yet just 50% is single use.
- 70% of our plastic debris sinks into the oceans ecosystem, 15% can be found floating, and 15% will find its way on our beaches.
- By 2050, plastic in our ocean will outnumber fish.
- In 1950, we produced 2.5 billion plastic waste, and by 2016 we were producing over 320 tons of plastic. This will double again by 2034.
- Only 1 in 5 plastic bottles are recycled
It is estimated that over 150 plastic bottles litter each mile of all UK beaches, yet we continue to throw away plastic bottles. It’s thought there are approximately 5,000 items of plastic pollution per square mile across the world’s beaches.
Solutions To Plastic Bottle Pollution
Aside from cleaning up our oceans, which is a very important step but definitely not a long-term solution, the best way to help address plastic water pollution is to change our behavior and habits. The main solution to water bottle pollution is to reduce our usage of plastic, which means changing our everyday habits by looking at alternatives and only use plastics when necessary. Consider reusing plastic water bottles to provide solutions other than recycling them.
- Start using reusable stainless steel water bottles, better for your health and the environment.
- Use a water filter in your refrigerator and use it to refill your reusable water bottles.
- Help raise awareness, by telling friends and family about the impact plastic bottles are having on the environment.
- Source alternatives. It’s not just plastic water bottles that are impacting the environment, find alternative household items, such as soap and cleaning products that come in environmentally-friendly packaging.
- Simply make sure you recycle. Whether you use one, or see one on the ground, pick it up and recycle it.
The main solution is education and informing people of the impact they are having on the environment and the health of their future generations. With education, comes a change to consumer behaviors.