The plastics industry has been a rapidly growing one consistently outstripping growth in other industrial sectors. In 1969 world output of plastic materials was about 24 million tonnes. This increased to 58 million in 1980 and was forecast to grow to over 100 million tons by 1990. The recession of the late 1970s and early 1980s, however, has caused the pace of growth to slacken. The rate of growth of plastics production is also subject to regional differences, and additionally, different patterns of per capita consumption have emerged. For example, whilst the western European industry grew by 15.4% per annum in 1965-70 and then at 6.7% per annum in 1970-76, and the USA industry by 11.3% per annum from 1965-70 and 6.4% from 1970-76, the Japanese industry registered annual increases of 23.6% in 1965-70 and 0.6% in 1970-76. In 1976 the former Federal Republic of Germany consumed 90 kg of plastics per capita, the USA 52.3 and Japan 41.7. Plastics production and per capita consumption in any country are closely related to both gross national product and the rate at which traditional materials can be displaced. Highest production and consumption figures are found in the industrialized countries and the lowest rates in the developing countries.