How Many Plastic Bags do we Use Each Year?

I was quite amazed to read the figures about how many plastic bags are used around the world each year. Actual numbers can only be estimates, but either way you look at it, we’re using a hell of a lot of plastic bags these days. One can only wonder about the damage this is doing to the natural environment.

Also, the figures vary depending on the source, but here are some figures I’ve seen from various sources.

A common estimate is that global consumption of plastic bags is over 500 billion plastic bags annually. Yes that’s 500,000,000,000 plastic bags used per year. In other words, that’s almost 1 million plastic bags used per minute.

As if that’s not enough, some environmental groups have estimated that up to 1 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide each year. Now, depending on your definition of the word “trillion”, that would be either 1,000,000,000,000 plastic bags or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 plastic bags each year!

For arguments sake, let’s say it’s somewhere between 5 billion and a trillion plastic bags per year.

That’s a lot of plastic bags.

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36 Responses to “How Many Plastic Bags do we Use Each Year?”

  1. Plastic Bags are out at Whole Foods | Natural Environment Blog Says:

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    [...] we’ll need to figure out how to get rid of the other 999,999,991,000,000,000 plastic bags that we use each year!Wal-Mart to Reduce Plastic Bag Waste by 33 [...]

  4. funny silly Says:

    i think going green is importent very importent

  5. silly millie Says:

    OMG! how many do we use a year?!?!
    that stupid we are very silly people
    shame on the world! :|

    humph made me mardy now.

  6. Julie Says:

    is this information about world wide orjust in Australia??


  7. Ian Says:

    This is world wide.

  8. Rob Says:

    Trillion is 1,000,000,000,000

    Trillian is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 aka quintillion

    They’re not the same word, so it’s not depending on one’s definition.

    If we can have manufacturers that keep up with 1,000,000 bags per minute usage, then how big are those plants anyway? And why aren’t we running out of resources more quickly? And these are estimates.

    Most of you people here are probably too young (or too forgetful) to remember a time when the people shoving green down your throats were the same people that said we needed to begin using plastic bags nearly 30 years ago, because it would save the trees and would be “green.”

    Effing bunch of hypocrites.

  9. Ian Says:

    Actually, the word “trillion” does depend on one’s definition - depending on where you live.

    According to the dictionary, a trillion is:

    “a cardinal number represented in the U.S. by 1 followed by 12 zeros, and in Great Britain by 1 followed by 18 zeros.”

  10. igetgreen Says:

    That’s horrific! I have a website, about going green and saving the envirnoment. Please check it out and save the earth!

  11. Green Man Says:

    we are horrible to this world

  12. jen Says:

    would love to see some references on this.

  13. meijie Says:

    good article

  14. NFL Jerseys Says:

    I think this is a good theme article .
    In fact , wo should do our best to make out environment better.

  15. Five Fingers Says:

    There is one world , we should do our best to protect it !

  16. cheap nfl jerseys Says:

    I bookmarked your blog, thanks for sharing this very interesting post

  17. Mike Says:

    Ian must have a very old dictionary.

    When I were a lad in the 1950s an English billion was a million million 1,000,000,000,000. But the American billion has taken over and in UK a billion now means 1,000,000,000. So when the Government talk about governmebt borrowing of £160bn they mean 160,000,000,000.

    How big is a billion? Best way of grasping it is think of a million pound house, then think how much it would cost to buy 1,000 of them. Answer, £1bn. And a million houses would cost you £1trillion.

    Similarly, mid 20th century and English trillion was a million million million 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 but here too the American billion is now what we mean when we say a trillion: 1,000,000,000,000.

    1 trillion plastic bags (1,000,000,000,000) is only twice as many as 500,000,000,000 (500 billion) plastic bags.

    But a much more revealing question is how many barrels of oil does it take to make that many plastic bags, and what percentage a annual oil production does that represent?

    Actually if you really want to be green forget about tiny irrelevances like plastic bags. The greenest thing we, the human race, can do is have fewer children.

  18. Mike Says:

    Oops typo: shoudl be “Similarly, mid 20th century and English trillion was a million million million 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 but here too the American trillion is now what we mean when we say a trillion: 1,000,000,000,000.

  19. Ian Says:

    Thanks for the explanation Mike!

    I have again checked my dictionary (didn’t think it was THAT old!), and also several online dictionaries and resources. While not all dictionaries state what you’ve explained, some do (kind of). So I concur with your statement.

    Still, my post still stands. The word trillion is still subject to one’s definition, depending on whether you’re in a long scale country or short scale country:

    It appears that UK used to be a long scale country but is now a short scale country…

    Maybe I should change the title of the post to “What is the definition of the word Trillion?”!

  20. Greendude Says:

    our earth is finite, so we should protect it with our hearts

  21. Athithya Says:

    I have a solution to recycle plastic if you want to know contact me

  22. G D Williams Says:

    I was posting on my blog a news report about Italy’s ban of plastic bags. I make a reference to your blog in my posting. Found it by Google. Thanks for helping this planet. Keep up the good work.

  23. john Says:

    these are all big fat lies. paper bags are reused 100 % of the time !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  24. Plastic Containers South Africa Says:

    Oh my word just trying to grasp a billion is hard enough now you want to bring in the word or number trillion I don’t think anyone has seen what a trillion anything thing is, but if thats what we are using around the world things have to change, people have to get in the habit of recycling no matter what. It just takes 7 days to start a habit and this can become a good one to have.

  25. PeanutbutterTHUNDA Says:

    Really good point, i couldn’t believe my eyes wheni saw all the zeros. Wow.

  26. gh3tt0 f@8ul0U$ Says:


  27. gh3tt0 f@8ul0U$ Says:


  28. allen Says:

    I think in U.A.E. People are using Most no of Plastic Bags. & NOT re use also.

  29. jia Says:

    using cloth bags or reusable bags is the best option and if each person uses them then it can prevent 1000s of plastic bags from being produced.

  30. dany Says:

    if the enviornment is damaged then michael jackson’s song earth song is needed

  31. Cpngduy Says:

    Cool fact. Sorry I copied u but hey look at the bright side. More people will know about it and you can (maybe) be famous for doing that! Cool Fact (serious).

  32. Congduy Says:

    I think I spelled my name wrong at my last comment. Cool Fact.

  33. Congduy Says:

    Shame on the world (not u. Or anyone that is trying to save it).
    :( :(

  34. unknown Says:

    oh we are so mean to the earth. shame on humans :(

  35. annonymous Says:

    humans suck!!!!! we are soooooo cruel to earth

  36. prathiba Says:

    hereafter i won’t use plastics. i would also advice everyone to do the same