Production and consumption of chemicals up in 2021 in the EU


In 2021, the EU produced a total of 279 million tonnes of industrial chemicals (hazardous and non-hazardous) and consumed 299 million tonnes, a 4% increase each compared with 2020. Compared with 2019, before the pandemic, production fell by 1 % from 281 tonnes, and consumption remained at nearly the same level (300 million tonnes in 2019) with a small 0.3 % decrease.

This information comes from data released by Eurostat today. The article presents a handful of findings from the more detailed Statistics Explained article on chemicals production and consumption.

Data show that although, in 2020, production and consumption of chemicals hazardous to health and the environment decreased compared with 2019, due to the COVID-19 pandemic impact across sectors, in 2021, both production and consumption not only grew compared with the previous year but surpassed 2019 levels.

In 2021, 214 million tonnes of chemicals hazardous to health were produced (4 % more than in 2020; 1% more than in 2019), along with 85 million tonnes of chemicals hazardous to the environment (6 % more compared with 2020; 2 % more than in 2019). Please note that some product categories might be overlapping, resulting in a sum higher than the total production mentioned at the beginning.

In terms of consumption, the total of chemicals hazardous to health consumed reached 224.8 million tonnes last year, 4 % more than in 2020 and 1 % more than in 2019.

The consumption of chemicals hazardous to the environment totalled 86.4 million tonnes in 2021, indicating substantial increases of 7% compared with 2020 (81.0 million tonnes) and 5 % compared with the pre-pandemic year of 2019 (82.1 million tonnes).

Looking back, both production and consumption of these products increased between 2004 and 2007, but then suffered a drop during the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009. A rebound period followed in 2010, with production and consumption remaining stable until 2020, when a 4 % decrease related to the pandemic was registered.

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Methodological notes: 

  • Data for 2021 are based on a first estimate from PRODCOM. The figures for hazardous and non-hazardous chemicals in this article do not include the production of some large volume chemicals, which would dominate the indicator (e.g. liquid air, nitrogen and oxygen) and which are of no relevance to measure the effects of chemicals legislation.