Which countries produce the most plastic waste?

Hannah Norton

Jan 8, 2024

According to Deloitte’s Sustainable Consumer report, 64% of people said they wanted to reduce their plastic consumption.1 In fact, it’s never been more of a hot talking point – #plasticwaste has 119.1 million views on TikTok, raising more awareness than ever before on the issues that plastic waste can cause.

Gen Z are officially the generation most committed to sustainability, with 72% of Gen Z in the UK stating they’ve already changed their behaviour, to reduce their impact on the planet.2

However, there’s still a long way to go; with some countries playing their part in being more environmentally friendly, whilst others continue to generate tons and tons of waste.

Following our 2021 skyline of waste report, the energy experts at Compare the Market decided to re-run the statistics for 2023. To do this, we analysed the amount of waste countries all around the world produce on a daily and yearly basis; and turned it into the equivalent of major landmarks… and the results are shocking.

These are the countries that produce the most plastic waste per capita

These countries might not have the biggest population, but they produce more plastic waste per person than any other country in the world.

1. Singapore

For a small country, Singapore produces a lot of plastic waste – in fact, it’s topped our list per capita. With a population of 6,014,723, Singapore has a total waste per capita of 66.5kg; with a staggering 1,095,890.4kg of single-use waste generation every day.

To put this into perspective, every day, Singaporeans are generating enough waste to recreate 106% of Christ the Redeemer and 537% of the Statue of Liberty.

2. Oman

In second place is Oman, with 64.6kg of waste per capita produced – that’s 300,000,000kg of plastic waste generated by its 4,644,384-strong population. This equates to filling up four Statue of Liberties every day; or across the year, it’s almost 33 Eiffel Towers, or 0.4 of the Sydney Opera House

3. Australia

Australia sits in third position, with a total waste per capita of 56.73kg, or a single-use waste generation per day of 4,109,589kg.

If we look at this waste generation over the course of the year, it could recreate the Sydney Opera House almost twice, or 4.5 Empire State Buildings.

4. Hong Kong

Hong Kong makes it into fourth place, with a total per capita waste of 53.4kg: that’s 400,000,000kg from its population of 7,491,609.

On a daily basis, Hong Kong creates enough plastic waste to recreate 12% of the Eiffel Tower, and 106% of Christ the Redeemer.

5. United Arab Emirates

Making it into the top five is the UAE, with a total waste per capita of 52.54kg, and a single-use waste generation per capita per day of 0.14kg.

Over the course of a year, the UAE generates enough waste to recreate 2,449.6 Statue of Liberties, 481.4 Christ the Redeemers, and 1.5 Empire State Buildings.

The Middle East featured heavily in our top five, but Kuwait is the only other middle eastern country to make it onto our list, in 10th place.

Belgium is the European country that produces the most plastic waste per capita, followed by the Netherlands and Slovenia, in sixth, seventh, and ninth positions respectively. The USA also makes it into the top 10, in position eight.

These are the countries that produce the most plastic waste overall

If we then look at these statistics from an overall perspective, we can see there is a big shift in the countries that make it into the top 10.

1. China

China tops the list, producing a total plastic waste of a staggering 25,400,000,000kg. Every day, its 1,425,671,352 population generates 69,589,041kg of single-use waste; which equates to 7.59 Eiffel Towers, 66.99 Christ the Redeemers, and 0.09 Sydney Opera Houses.

2. USA

With its 339,996,563 population creating a total plastic waste generation of 17,200,000,000kg, the USA has earned its title as the country to produce the second most amount of plastic waste overall.

Over the course of a year, their waste equates to 21.4 Sydney Opera Houses, 51.9 Empire State Buildings, and a staggering 84,265.4 Statue of Liberties.

3. India

India makes it into third place. It has the largest population in the world (1,428,627,663), which between them, produces 5,600,000,000kg of plastic waste – although per capita, that’s relatively low, at 3.92kg.

Every day, India creates enough waste to recreate 167% of the Eiffel Tower, 1,477% of Christ the Redeemer, and 7,517% of the Statue of Liberty.

4. Japan

In fourth place is Japan, which produces 4,700,000,000kg of total plastic waste, and 12,876,712.33kg of single-use waste every single day. That equates to 12.4 Christ the Redeemers and 63.08 Statue of Liberties!

5. United Kingdom

Rounding off our top five is the United Kingdom, creating 7,945,205.48kg of single-use waste every day, and a total of 2,900,000,000kg of overall waste. Over the year, the UK generates enough plastic waste to create 3.6 Sydney Opera Houses and 8.8 Empire States.

Brazil, South Korea, France, Indonesia, and Mexico all make up the top 10 of the most plastic waste-generating countries.

Meredith O’Brien, Head of Energy at Compare the Market Australia, states “It can be all-too easy thinking there’s no need trying to reduce your own plastic usage, because you’re just one person, but these stats prove differently.”

“By taking small steps, such as using reusable bottles and cups, to using refill shops to top up empty containers and carrying reusable shopping bags; you’re doing your bit to contribute to your country’s reduction in waste generation.”

O‘Brien notes that consumers who are concerned about their impact on the environment can look at making the most of solar panels or a green energy plan.

“Solar panels cost a lot to install, but depending on how you consume electricity, they can make a massive difference to your energy bills while providing clean power from the sun that’s better for the planet,” O’Brien explains.

In Australia’s State of Victoria, it’s estimated solar panels save the average Victorian household AU$1,073 a year on their annual energy bills.3

“If you can use your energy intensive devices during the day when the sun is shining, you can power them without having to rely on the grid. Using smart-meters or battery storage can help you make the most of solar panels for your home.

“As for GreenPower, these are energy plans in Australia that are certified by a Government agency to provide a certain amount of power from renewable, clean sources. This will range from 10% to 100% and will be listed in the details of the plan. Not every energy provider has these plans available for all service areas, and these plans may cost more than other energy plans, so it’s important to compare and review the details of your market contract before you buy.

“However, if reducing your impact on the environment is something you are passionate about, certified Greenpower plans could be a great option for you,” says O’Brien.





A list of global countries was compiled. The overall single use plastic waste generation figures were collected per country, and reflect the single use plastic waste generated over the course of a year.

To find the single use plastic waste generation per capita, this was divided by overall population.

To calculate the number of 1-litre bottles each location’s waste equates to, we took the total waste per year, and divided this by the weight of a 1-litre bottle. We then divided this figure by 365 to forecast the number of 1-litre bottles wasted per day.

The countries were then ranked by the highest volume of single use plastic waste per capita.

With each landmark, we took the weight in kg and used the waste per day and year for each country to calculate how many times each landmark could be re-produced.

All data is correct as of 21/11/2023.