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The price of plastic pollution: social costs and corporate liabilities

Year of Publication


This report estimates the social costs of plastic-related pollution to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars each year and highlights the need for urgent action from the plastics industry, insurers, regulators, and policymakers to reduce corporate liabilities and mitigate the harmful impacts of plastic pollution.


Minderoo Foundation


Andreas Merkl, Dom Charles




Measurement (System/Market/Tool), Primary Data

Purpose of Measurement:

Understanding the Problem, Solution Sets and Impact Potential, Monitoring and Evaluation

Impact theme(s):

Material Flows, Climate, Oceans, Policy

This report shows that plastic-related pollution has significant social costs that are likely to turn into corporate liabilities, resulting in compensation claims against the plastics industry and their insurers. The study estimates that these costs, driven by harms to human health, are in the hundreds of billions of dollars each year, which is much more significant than the global plastics market worth around US$600 billion in 2021. The report aims to guide prioritization of actions to reduce business risks and initiate discussions on deterring harm and/or providing means of redress, the plastics industry's social license to operate, and actions required by policymakers to counter plastic-related pollution.

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