30 September 2021

Tracking Trade Across the Life Cycle of Plastics: Launch of New Online Database

As policymakers, stakeholders and researchers work to understand how trade and trade policies are relevant to efforts to reduce plastic pollution and promote a global green new deal, this database provides a ‘one stop’ portal for tracking global trade flows across the entire life cycle of plastics – from raw inputs to final products and waste.

The database’s life cycle approach captures the extraordinary scale, breadth and complexity of trade flows. In addition, the database covers important trade flows commonly neglected in estimates of plastics trade.

Speakers at the event introduced the database and provide a sample of key findings, highlighting how the database can support efforts by governments, the private sector and civil society to promote more sustainable trade in plastics and develop policies and regulations to reduce plastic pollution. The event will included a brief tutorial on how policymakers and researchers can access and use the database.

The database will be freely available to the public on the UNCTAD statistics database. The database is a product of a two-year research project on the global political economy and regulation of plastic production and pollution, co-hosted by the Graduate Institute’s Global Governance Centre and UNCTAD, funded by the Swiss Network of International Studies (SNIS).



  • Anu Peltola, Head, Statistics branch, UNCTAD
  • Diana Barrowclough, Senior Economist, UNCTAD
  • Sonia Blachier, Senior Data Manager, UNCTAD


  • Xiaohui Zhang, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of China to the WTO
  • Helionor De Anzizu, Attorney (International Investment and Trade Law), Centre for International Environmental Law (CIEL)


  • Carolyn Deere Birkbeck, Director, TESS

UNCTAD and TESS held this online launch of “Tracking trade across the life cycle of plastics: Launch of new online database” as of part of the Geneva Trade Week 2021, hosted by the Geneva Trade Platform.

Launch of Plastics Database

You can view this video of the launch co-organized by UNCTAD and TESS as part of Geneva Trade Week 2021.

In collaboration with