Plastic could be the most polarising material of the past few years. It offers a variety of remarkable benefits for individuals every day, but the material is also one of the most dangerous substances on the planet. The term “plastic” originally meant that the material was pliable and easily moulded.
The first product made of plastic resulted from research conducted by John Wesley Hyatt in 1869. Hyatt invented an initial synthetic polymer to win $10,000, which was announced as a method of providing an alternative to ivory. Billiards was gaining popularity throughout America.
The United States and the initial balls were made of the tusks of wild elephants. Hyatt found that when he treated cotton and cellulose using camphor, a substance could be made to a variety of shapes as possible.
Let’s understand the advantages and disadvantages of plastics now!
Below are 7 of the most sought-after and widely utilised plastics:
- Acrylic or Poly Methyl Methacrylate (PMMA)
- Polypropylene (PP)
- Polycarbonate (PC)
- Polyethylene (PE)
- Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE or PET)
- Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene (ABS)
- Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Advantages of Plastics
1. A lot of plastics have an extremely long life, which encourages recycling:
They don’t have to be considered disposable or single-use items. A variety of forms of this material are durable and last for a long time, more than or equivalent to other materials. PVC pipe can render services for more than 100 years if it is well maintained and adequately made. Construction materials made of plastic have a lifespan of 35 years.
2. Plastic manufacturing processes are compared favourably with many other components:
The method of manufacturing plastics may require energy and fossil fuels; however, compared to other substances, it’s still an eco-friendly alternative. Recycling techniques can alter how they compare. It’s still a benefit that plastics contribute to the cycle of reuse when it is consistent.
3. Plastics are less likely to take up space in landfills
Although plastics take an extended amount of time to break down when they are dumped in landfills, compared to other materials in the same space, the amount that plastics occupy in these areas of waste disposal is very minimal. Paper products account for seven times the volume.
4. Methane doesn’t form due to decomposing:
Organic substances, once they begin to decay, release greenhouse gases. The main focus of this process is usually carbon dioxide. However, the methane released is very toxic. Methane can be up to twenty times stronger than an atmospheric reflector in comparison to CO2.
The gas released by plastics is not released as soon as they begin to break down, so it is easier to estimate the life-cycle impact of the result.
5. Plastics are the most secure method to transport the items you want to transport:
Because plastic is in good condition, using plastic bottles for bottles that include water or other beverages is a better choice. People use the material to quickly and easily get water to the poor around the globe.
Disadvantages of Plastics:
1. Plastics are generally made of resources that are not renewable:
Although the first substances of plastic originated from plant-based fibres, Most plastics manufactured today have fossil fuels for their basis. Petroleum is the most frequent. However, you can also use natural gas for the production of the product.
Around 4% of these fuels are used directly in the plastics sector to create new products. If you look at the number of materials used in the process of refinement and the expected increase in demand within the next ten years, the cost of fossil fuels of plastics could rise to 20%.
2. The overwhelming majority of the pollution found in oceans around the globe is due to plastic:
As high as 80% of marine debris is made up of plastic. This issue results from sources both on land and in the ocean and is often found in vast areas of open water, where the tides meet. The issue of plastic pollution causes land pollution, along beaches and even in freshwater sources.
The items thrown out most frequently are bottles, stirrers, lids/food wrappers, and straws made of plastic. For five dollars per kilogram is to remove pollution caused by plastic from the ocean’s surface waters. That’s the reason why the initiative to cleanse marine areas is being managed by agencies that aren’t profitable.
3. Plastic pollution could cause a variety of economic losses:
The pollution caused by plastic packaging causes a loss of about $80 billion per year for the global economy. It is responsible for around 50% of the produced waste, and virtually every other industry utilises this product in some manner. Building and construction plastics account for 16% of the use of plastic, and textiles account for around 15%.
Because it’s not beneficial to recycle all of these objects, more are destined to end up in waste streams, which are then reused. Recycling plastics on average worldwide is approximately 14%. By recycling about 60% of plastics and its products, India is one of the top countries in the world.
4. Plastic products can’t be recycled indefinitely:
Thanks to the characteristics of the material, it can be reused in a variety of different items. Plastics aren’t able to offer that benefit. They can only be recycled or reused a set of times before it begins to lose their integrity and quality.
This means that people tend to reduce the use of the product, store it in a garbage bin or even burn it. Certain plastic products and items aren’t recyclable, which increases the impact of this drawback. More than 93 billion objects made of plastic don’t feel any contact every year, meaning they are disposed of in landfills.
5. We need to invest energy in cleaning plastics and recycling items to reuse:
Materials that cross-contaminate with different types of plastics create unusable products. Before recyclers can convert the items into new ones, they need to clean the materials.
Plastic is among the most groundbreaking inventions in the history of humanity. It offers a range of methods to increase the security of our food and beverages while also providing systems that provide infrastructure benefits that we all benefit from.
We also have discovered that hormone disruptors can be the cause between human health and plastic risks. PCBs and dioxins have already affected the waterways of the world. BPA, also known as bisphenol A, is banned, even though there are still people exposed to it through myriad sources. According to the CDC’s estimation, 95% of the population are affected by BPA contamination in their bodies.
It is essential to keep in mind that ingestion isn’t the only risk to be considered. Simple exposures, the amount of time required to decompose and the waste that we produce are causing harm to the environment. We must improve our recycling rates and seek alternatives when it is sensible to reduce the exposure we are exposed to.