Minderoo Foundation's 2023 Plastic Waste Makers Index

The Minderoo Foundation's 2023 Plastic Waste Makers Index has been published and contains what the authors describe as "shocking findings".

Download the report

Plastic Waste Makers Index website

Report highlights:

  1. Despite rising consumer awareness, corporate attention, and regulation, there is more single-use plastic waste than ever before — an additional 6 million metric tons (MMT) generated in 2021 compared to 2019 — still almost entirely made from fossil fuel-based “virgin” feedstocks.
  2. Single-use plastic is not only a pollution crisis but also a climate one. Cradle-to-grave (Scope 1, 2 and 3) greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from single-use plastics in 2021 were equivalent to ~450 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (MMT CO2e), more than the total GHG emissions of the United Kingdom.
  3. Recycling is failing to scale fast enough and remains, at most, a marginal activity for the plastics sector — from 2019- 21, growth in single-use plastics made from virgin polymers was 15 times that from recycled feedstocks. Only strong regulatory intervention with economic incentives can solve what amounts to market failure.
  4. Within the petrochemical industry there are two outliers: Taiwan's Far Eastern New Century and Thailand's Indorama Ventures are making strong commitments to recycling and are also now producing on par recycled polymers at scale.

Dr Andrew Forrest AO, Chairman, Minderoo Foundation, said:

"They’re shocking findings, but they’re the results of this second edition of the Plastic Waste Makers Index. For the petrochemical industry to argue otherwise is greenwashing of the highest order."

"We need a fundamentally different approach, that turns the tap off on new plastic production. We need a “polymer premium” on every kilogram of plastic polymer made from fossil fuel.”

Plastic Index image 2

Hub plastic waste related research:

The Hub is embarking on various aspects of research into plastic waste and how that waste can be re-used and reformed for other uses as part of creating a circular economy:

See research by the Hub's Impact Priority 2 - Plastic and Waste Materials researchers