This article relies largely or entirely on a single source. (January 2018)
Plastic containers are containers made exclusively or partially of plastic. Plastic containers are ubiquitous either as single-use or reuseable/durable plastic cups, plastic bottles, plastic bags, foam food containers, Tupperware, plastic tubes, clamshells, cosmetic containers, up to intermediate bulk containers and various types of containers made of corrugated plastic. The entire packaging industry heavily depends on plastic containers or containers with some plastic content (e.g. plastic coating or when made of composite material), besides paperboard and other materials. Food storage nowadays relies mainly on plastic food storage containers.
A basic but important distinction is between single-use / disposable and multi-use / durable containers. The former makes up a notable portion of the global plastic waste (e.g. toothpaste tubs, food delivery foam containers, most plastic bottles, etc.).
Because of the multitude of container applications, the types of plastic vary widely. Because of the material variety (combinations are no exception), the waste will make up a significant portion of plainly visible plastic pollution although some containers like bottles are recyclable.
Plastic has replaced traditional materials like wood, paperboard, and metal for the manufacture of containers because of its price, moldability/formability, durability and light weight. Alternatives such as cotton bags, cardboard boxes and aluminum cans often have larger ecological footprints because these use up more energy and water to manufacture and transport than their plastic equivalents.
Asia Pacific dominated the global plastic packaging market in 2016. In second place comes North America. The pharmaceutical and food and beverage industries contributed the most to the use of plastic packaging products. During 2016, Asia Pacific accounted for more than 30 percent of the shares of the total volume consumption in this market. The Ocean Conservancy reported that China, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam dump more plastic in the sea than all other countries combined.
In the late 2010s, 150 companies signed up to be part of The Ellen MacArthur Foundation's commitment to reduce plastic pollution. In a 2019 report, The Coca-Cola Company divulged the company created 3 million tons of plastic packaging in 2017 with Nestlé creating 1.7 million tons, Unilever creating 610,000 tons and Colgate-Palmolive nearly 300,000 tons.
Given the environmental footprint of substitutes like cotton bags, aluminium cans or paper boxes--which often require more energy and water to make and transport than plastic equivalents--new regulations could in fact end up doing harm to the planet.
China, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam are dumping more plastic into oceans than the rest of the world combined, according to a 2017 report by Ocean Conservancy