Plastic & Rubber

The plastic and rubber industries comprise the establishments that manufacture goods by processing plastic and rubber raw materials. The industry has had global success mainly due to the enormous growth rate of polymer consumption, from raw materials to end-user products. With the worldwide acceptance of polymer materials across industries such as automobiles, packaging, infrastructure, and construction, more recently it has forayed into medical engineering and leisure products.

While plastics and rubber play a fundamental role in modern society, it is essential to develop a more circular approach to its use in the future due to the growing concerns around plastic waste. Moreover, the incredible versatility and diversity of plastics, from food packaging applications to underground wind turbines, makes recycling and recovery very challenging and expensive. While many plastics are cost-effective, the value of recovered plastics is often meagre.

Largest producer of plastic material
Global plastic production volume
368m mt
Leading natural rubber exporter

Market size

China dominates the plastic industry
Distribution of global plastic materials production in 2020, by region
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Currently, China manufactures nearly one-third of the world’s plastic products, with a monthly output of almost seven million tons. Despite China’s increased domestic consumption, the country exported nearly 14 million tons of plastic products in 2019. With the ban on single-use plastics in late 2020, significant new investments in biodegradables are expected.
Asia Pacific region is also the largest hub for natural and synthetic rubber.

Global plastics industry
Global rubber industry
Synthetic rubber market size

Market segments

How has plastic has changed the global economy?
Distribution of butadiene consumption worldwide as of 2019 by end use
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The packaging market is expected to grow in the coming years, along with increasing global demand. The growth of packaged foods and consumer preference for ready-to-eat and processed foods will further drive demand. Synthetic rubber consumption is higher than natural rubber, and the demand for synthetic rubber from its traditional tire market is catching up in many other industries. Styrene-butadiene, the leading market product, is used to manufacture tires and as an emulsion or binder.

European Union (EU-28) plastic demand
Companies with the largest plastic footprint
Global butadiene consumption distribution

Industry trends

Are bio-based plastics the future?
Production capacity of bioplastics worldwide from 2017 to 2023 (in 1,000 metric tons)
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The global production of bioplastics is continuously increasing and has a market leverage over plastics based on petrochemicals. Manufacturers in the plastic and rubber products industry are investing in automation technologies to reduce production costs, improve productivity, and enhance product quality. With more robust and durable engineered polymers, there is a rising demand, especially in the construction and automotive industry, to replace metal components.

Production capacity of bioplastics, by market segment
Global bioplastics production capacity
Global chemical production change due to COVID-19

Industry leaders

Who is the largest manufacturer of polymers?
2020 ranking of leading United States chemical companies based on revenue (in billion U.S. dollars)*
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The extremely dynamic plastic and rubber industry have offered innovative solutions to society's ever-evolving demands. Some of the major players in the global polymer market include Dow Chemicals, LyondellBasell, ExxonMobil, and BASF. One of the world's largest plastics manufacturers, Dow, is the leading global supplier of primary polyethylene (PE) resin.

Brand value of PetroChina
Dow Chemical Company

Industry Definition

The plastic and rubber category presents statistics and reports on the plastic and rubber industry, including specialized information on the various types of plastic, as well as both synthetic and natural rubber. Within this sector, Statista provides data on the key figures, including product manufacturing, consumption, sales, and trade of polymer components on a global, regional, and local scale.

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