Many people see “plastic” as the villain of the environment as evidenced by an increased awareness and more efforts to ban single-use plastics. However, many plastic types can be reused multiple times in many industries. And importantly, they have a wide array of benefits.
The ban of single-use plastics must be actively promoted and campaigned to bring about real change at a large scale. But we must not forget to impart knowledge that plastics are vital and can be used wisely. At this point, we would like to introduce plastic use in different industries and see a broad range of their direct and indirect benefits.
Plastics in Medical Industry
Plastics are essential raw materials for a broad range of medical equipment, from small devices like pharmaceutical packaging, medical equipment, surgical instrument, to macro-scale devices like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Plastics can make portable medical devices, in which patients can improve their health without doctor presence, such as insulin pens for diabetic patients.
Light in weight, plastics are made ideal for surgeons to help reduce soreness while using the surgical instrument for a long time. Plastics are not corrosive in the sterilization process, and are tough and resistant to chemicals. Some plastic materials can withstand extreme heat without deterioration. Most people are unaware that plastics are also safer to tissues and blood in the body than other materials. And for the cost, plastics are unquestionably cheaper when compared to metal, glass or titanium. Plastics are also easier to design and mold.
Plastic types used in the medical industry: PVC, PP, PE, PC, ABS
Plastics in Agricultural Industry
Many agricultural tools and equipment made of wood, steel, and metal, are replaced by plastics. The commonly seen items are basket, water pipe, and an intriguing item like mulching film that is used to prevent weed growth and conserve soil moisture. Currently, mulching films can now be biodegradable, which help eliminate the process of collection and removal after the end of use.
Plastic types used in the agricultural industry: LDPE, LLDPE, EDP
Plastics in Packaging Industry
Many boxes, bags, or packaging in the market are not entirely made of plastics. Most of them are multilayer or coated with metal like aluminum to maintain the product’s conditions. The packaging industry developed the method called “multi-material”, which makes the waste hard to recycle despite them being separated.
The challenge of the innovation developers in this era is to develop packaging that is recycling-friendly, in which such efforts have led to the development of mono-material packaging. Chemicals Business, SCG, has successfully developed mono-material packaging that made the packaging more recyclable by using the addictive “CIERRA® – Barrier.” It is a significant milestone in the development of plastic packaging.
Regardless of how plastics play a significant role and which industry it drives growth, encouraging recycling behaviors is always the best answer because resource efficiency and maximization is the solution to industry’s resource scarcity and environmental sustainability problems.