International Plastic Overshoot Day 2023: Understanding How Big the Plastic Waste Problem

The significance of plastic overshoot day highlights the urgency to address the issue of improper plastic waste management in the world. 

The inaugural Plastic Overshoot Day took place on July 28, 2023, signifying the moment when the global plastic waste generated surpasses the planet’s capacity for effective disposal, as revealed by Earth Action (EA), a Swiss research consultancy. 

As outlined in the 2023 Plastic Overshoot Day Report by EA, an estimated additional 68,642,999 tonnes of plastic waste will find its way into the natural environment this year.

Each country experiences its own Plastic Overshoot Day annually. This event aims to shed light on the detrimental impact of plastic on the world and our ongoing challenges in efficiently recycling it. International Plastic Day serves as a platform to raise awareness about the detrimental global relationship with plastic and our struggles to properly manage its recycling.

July 28 holds significance because it offers an average assessment of plastic management progress across all countries. This calculation involves comparing the amount of plastic recycled with the amount discarded or improperly disposed of.

Differences in plastic processing capabilities exist among nations 

Denmark, with its efficient plastic waste management, experiences an ‘overshoot day’ on December 26th, as it excels in recycling plastic waste, leaving only four days when plastic disposal exceeds its recycling capacity. 

In contrast, Nigeria’s ‘offshoot day’ arrives on January 3rd, indicating that throughout the remaining days of the year, plastic remains largely unrecycled and unmanaged, frequently leading to environmental dumping.

India is part of a group of 12 nations, including China, Brazil, Indonesia, Thailand, Russia, Mexico, the United States, Saudi Arabia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, and Kazakhstan. Collectively, these countries bear the responsibility for 52 percent of the planet’s poorly managed plastic waste, as highlighted.

Given the present circumstances, even with commitments and expanded waste management capabilities, the escalation in plastic production is projected to cause a threefold surge in worldwide plastic pollution by 2040, as emphasized.

Significance of Plastic Overshoot Day

Taking place just four days before Earth Overshoot Day on August 2, this occasion serves as an urgent awakening for the global community. Plastic Overshoot Day brings into focus a crucial element of the world’s plastic usage: the prevalence of short-life plastics, which encompass plastic packaging and single-use items. 

In terms of individual plastic consumption, Iceland stands as the most significant contributor, with a per-person annual consumption of 128.9 kg. This is a staggering 24.3 times greater than India’s per-person yearly consumption of 5.3 kg. The global average per-person plastic consumption annually rests at 20.9 kg.

What is MWI Index?

On January 6, 2023, India reached its Overshoot Day, marking the point at which the quantity of plastic waste exceeded the nation’s capacity for effective management. The calculation of Plastic Overshoot Day relies on a country’s Mismanaged Waste Index (MWI).

The fundamental origin of plastic pollution lies in the disparity between the quantities of plastic generated and utilized, juxtaposed with the global capability to adequately handle these quantities once they transform into waste. This discrepancy between plastic consumption and waste management capacity is denoted as the Mismanaged Waste Index (MWI).

India secures the fourth position in the MWI ranking, signifying that a significant 98.55 percent of its generated waste faces mismanagement. The EA report underscores India’s inadequate performance in handling plastic waste.

As per CSE’s study, titled ‘The Plastic Life Cycle,’ India manages to recycle merely 12.3 percent of its plastic waste while subjecting 20 percent to incineration. The Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change’s centralized Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) portal indicates a cumulative capacity of 14.2 million tonnes for annual plastic waste processing in India. This includes both recycling and incineration capabilities, demonstrating the nation’s ability to process 71 percent of all primary plastic produced.

To combat plastic pollution, the report advocates for India to invest in waste management strategies, such as Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). It also emphasizes the necessity of phasing out plastics that aren’t designed for circular use.


In 2019, India emerged as one of the countries proposing a global ban on single-use plastics, a concept that evolved into a broader idea. In March 2022, the international community reached a consensus to formulate a worldwide treaty addressing plastic pollution by 2024, known as the UN Plastic Treaty. This treaty presents a rare opportunity to ignite global action against plastic pollution. However, its success hinges on comprehensive scoping, negotiations, ratification, and robust enforcement.

Join the sustainability revolution in India with The Disposal Company’s innovative climate action platform, which enables brands to become plastic-neutral and carbon-neutral. Click here to find out more.

Mousona Poddar

A passionate Content Writer who helps to scale your business by words with excellent research skills.

Related Articles

Back to top button