Though the water footprint (defined as the volume of water abstracted from local sources minus the volume released in the same place after treatment making fresh water available for re-use) of plastics is not so alarming yet, it must be improved to preserve the future and must be compared to those of replaced materials. This can be tackled by adopting 'Best Available Techniques' and applying them at the ground level.
The water consumption for 1 tonne of a product highly depends on the raw material type, the end part, the used processes and the recycling technology. Data varies from 1 m3 to hundreds and even some thousands depending on the source and the parameters taken into account. The main ways of progression are reduction in consumption thanks to new techniques, closed loop processes reducing water consumption near zero, the use of raw water in place of tap water, cheaper and more efficient waste water treatments, and recycling.
Some good practical examples that have been successfully used include 'waste water treatment in polymer manufacturing plants' and 'reducing water consumption and recycling waste water'.