Plastics are constantly adapting and changing to society’s needs.  These innovations in products systems and technologies help contribute to a more sustainable world.

Plastics make an immense contribution to the environmental sustainability through their energy saving potential and intrinsic recyclability and energy recovery options. Economically plastics form an important part of the economy and are a major export product. Socially the plastics industry is a major and inclusive employer with an attention to training and education.

Environmental Sustainability

Plastics have a very good environmental profile.  Only 4% of the world’s oil production is used for plastics and much less energy is used to produce it compared to other materials.  Plastics are durable yet lightweight and thus save weight in cars aircraft packaging and pipework.

Economic Sustainability

Plastics products are very cost effective to produce and provide the ability to make single moulded components in complex shapes. This significantly reduces costs associated with assembly and the use of fixtures.
  • Plastics products also provide whole life cost savings:
  • Reduced fuel use in transit due to their lightweight.
  • Reduced maintained requirements for example PVC windows do not require painting.
  •  Reduced energy required for heating when plastics insulation is used.
  • Reduced food and consumer goods wastage due to the unparalleled protective properties of plastics packaging.
  • The plastics industry is a leader in research and development and innovation.
  • Plastics materials and applications are constantly developed and improved
  • Significant industrial research and development is supported by a University infrastructure of polymer or polymer engineering departments (including Polymer – IRC)
  • Polymer Innovation Network (PIN) formerly Faraday Plastics plays a leading role promoting innovation. 

Social Sustainability

Completing the final pillar of sustainability plastics are also socially sustainable. The plastics industry is socially inclusive and offers a wide range of worthwhile careers with considerable room for career development progression and training. The industry is very attentive to training.
  • Plastics companies are geographically widely distributed and provide jobs to people in all areas of the world.
  • The plastics industry has a superb health and safety record and is well regulated.
  • Plastics make a major contribution to safety the used plastics in cars for example reduce weight and allows for the addition of safety features such as airbags. Furthermore plastic foams such as EPS and EPP provide the necessary shock absorbency to be used in life saving devices such a bicycle helmets.
  • Plastics are essential in modern day healthcare. Plastics products are used in surgery healthcare products pharmaceuticals drug delivery systems and medical packaging.
Essential medical applications include:
  • Blood bags
    Fluid bags
    Sharps waste handling
    Heart and Lung bypass sets
    Blood transfusion sets
    Blood vessels in artificial kidneys
    Surgical gloves
    Catheters
    Endotracheal tubing

There are some great videos about recycling plastic on YouTube.  We’ve included the links here to help you research what is commonly done now and what may be achievable in the future!

Express Recycling & Plastics     How Post Consumer Plastics Are Recycled     Recycling Plastic into Oil

What happens when Plastic is Recycled     Recycled Plastic for Chinese Railways     Bridge Made From Recycled Plastic Supports Tank

If you have a question regarding Plastics and Sustainability please feel free to contact the Association of Rotational Moulders Australasia.

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