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State of the Science on Plastic Chemicals 2024

New Report Tracks Plastic Chemicals and Their Potential Hazards 

The PlastChem project, funded by the Norwegian Research Council, is a collaboration of researchers from Norwegian and Swiss institutions. Project objectives include compiling data on all known plastic chemicals, linking plastic chemicals to polymers of concern, and providing scientific evidence to guide policy development. In March 2024, researchers released the first version of their State of the Science on Plastic Chemicals report. 

Plastic Chemicals and Their Potential Hazards 
  1. Over 9 billion tons of plastic chemicals are produced per year. 

  2. More than 25% of plastic chemicals lack basic information on their chemical identity. 

  3. The report found 16,325 plastic chemicals with a chemical abstract service registry number (CASRN). Of these, 11,950 (73%) are organic chemicals, 3,449 (21%) are chemicals without information, and 926 (6%) are inorganic chemicals. 

  4. Only 47% of all plastic chemicals with CASRNs, or 7,585 chemicals, have data on their functionalities. 

  5. The five functions associated with the greatest number of plastic chemicals are colorants (3,674), processing aids (3,028), fillers (1,836), intermediates (1,741), and lubricants (1,684). 

  6. More than 4,219 plastic chemicals are viewed as hazardous because they are persistent, bioaccumulative, mobile, and/or toxic (PBMT). Out of the 16,325 chemicals, 10,726 chemicals (66%) do not have hazard data at this time, and 1,191 chemicals (7%) are considered less hazardous. 

  7. Some 1,875 chemicals classified as hazardous are still marketed for their use in plastics, which means chemicals of concern can be present in all plastics types.  

  8. At least 6,300 plastic chemicals have a high exposure potential, including over 1,500 compounds known to be released from plastic materials and products. 

  9. Over 9,000 plastic chemicals do not have publicly available information on their origins or uses in plastic. 



  • Wagner, M., Monclús, L., Arp, H. P. H., Groh, K. J., Løseth, M. E., Muncke, J., Wang, Z., Wolf, R., & Zimmermann, L. (2024). “State of the science on plastic chemicals - Identifying and addressing chemicals and polymers of concern.” Zenodo.  


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