Anybody can hop on the anti-plastics train and feel good about doing so. Thanks to some very loud voices that seem to get all the attention, plastic has an undeserved bad reputation among the masses. But truth be told, it is not the greatest evil humanity has perpetrated. In fact, plastic is not a bad manufacturing material at all. It is actually quite good.
Seraphim Plastics, a Tennessee company that buys industrial scrap plastic, recycles it, and sells it to manufacturers as plastic regrind, says most of the misunderstandings surrounding plastics have to do with similar misunderstandings about waste disposal and pollution.
No doubt plastics have gotten a lot of bad press in recent years. No doubt plenty of people would love to see the end of single-use plastics. But is there anything good we can say about plastic? Absolutely. Below are just five examples. As you read, do an honest assessment of your own life. Try to imagine what it would be like if plastic were eliminated.
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Among plastic’s many advantages is its comparably low weight. It is much lighter than both metal and wood while also being more durable. It is light enough that we can build airliners to fly across the oceans. We can build electric cars that do not burn fossil fuels. There are a lot of things we build with plastic that we could not build without it.
Also consider the fuel savings that plastic facilitates. Cars are lighter because of plastics, and lighter cars burn less gas. The same thing for planes, boats, trains, and so forth. Transporting plastic goods consumes less fuel as well.
Public enemy number one in plastics are food containers. But why? Plastic makes for better food containers. It makes it easier to preserve food for longer. All sorts of foods packaged in plastic lasts longer because they can be completely sealed. And because of plastic’s ability to preserve food, we have grocery stores that are always stocked with whatever we need.
Take away plastic and all that changes. Instead of going to the grocery store once a week, it is off to the market every single day. What is purchased that day must be consumed because there is no safe way to store it.
You might be surprised to learn this, but plastic is greener than most people think. Let’s compare it to paper. Paper requires trees. Trees take decades to grow. Every time trees are cut down to make paper, they need to be replaced. The entire circular process consumes energy, resources, and time.
Manufacturing plastics also requires time and energy. It doesn’t require nearly the footprint paper requires. In the end, manufacturing both materials pretty much evens out. They both have about the same impact from a production standpoint.
Modern plastics utilized in the construction industry are making both homes and commercial buildings more energy efficient. The most energy-efficient buildings in the world have a healthy amount of plastics built in. Moreover, certain plastics can make buildings safer for humans. Plastics can protect us more effectively against UV rays and extreme weather.
It is hard for some people to acknowledge that plastic benefits us all. It’s just not compatible with their stand against all things plastic. That is truly unfortunate. If we gave plastic a fair shake by comparing it to other manufacturing materials in an honest and open way, we would probably see things differently. Plastic would no longer be considered the enemy.