The Plastics Industry is constantly getting bad press whether it be lack of recycling, excessive plastic packaging or environmental damage. Whilst there’s an ongoing debate of plastic being the problem, we do have to question our morals as a nation on how we manage plastic, if it’s not handled correctly then it turns the argument around; is it actually the people that are the problem? It’s a never ending argument and near on impossible to please everyone, however being within the plastics industry we wanted to highlight some of the positives that are not always mentioned in the press. To help spread some plastic positivity, we’ve put together a short overview of 4 different topics, starting off with recycling…
Recycling: We can always do more to increase how much waste we recycle but it’s great to see the UK is heading in the right direction:
Over the last two decades, the household waste recycling rate in England has increased significantly from just 11.2% to almost 50%.
It’s not only households doing their bit with recycling, water giant Evian have recently launched a new 100% rPET bottle range in the UK.
Did you know?
Since the UK introduced the ‘5p carrier bag tax’ in 2015 we now use roughly 83% fewer single-use plastic bags than we did in 2014.
Our second topic is Plastics in the Medical Industry:
Plastic is widely used in the medical industry, it has so many benefits it’s easy to see why it’s well suited for medical applications:
Easy to sterilise
Antimicrobial grades of materials
Innovative freedom with 3d printing and injection moulding
Easily and quickly available
With the outbreak of COVID-19 earlier this year, it’s gone to show how critical the plastics industry is. With increased demand for plastic components for PPE and medical devices for testing & the development of a vaccine to keep our NHS running, the need for cost effective components with reduced time to market for development and fast production turnaround has been more important than ever.
Environmental impact is always a huge talking point when it comes to the plastics industry, we drastically need to reduce the amount of plastic waste in our oceans, but we mustn’t forget the positive environmental impacts that plastic is already making:
It’s lightweight which saves fuel & decreases emissions during transportation.
Plastic makes up 50% of today’s cars – which makes them lighter and improves fuel efficiency.
Plastic water systems provide clean water free of heavy metals.
Plastic can preserve nutrients and reduce food waste by extending shelf life of wrapped food.
Compared to paper bags, plastic bags require 2.7 x less energy, 1.6 x less CO2, 17 x less water. Paper bags, even with 100% recycled content have significantly higher average impacts on the environment than reusable or single use plastic bags.
And for the final topic on plastic positivity we’re looking at the British Plastics Industry Overview:
The commercial plastics industry started in the UK in the 19th century and is now a global leader with cutting edge technology which is an important part of the UK’s economic strength.
It has annual sales turnover in excess of £23.5 billion.
It employs approximately 182,000 people.
It’s the third largest employer in the UK manufacturing sector.
Plastics are one of the UK’s top 10 Exports.
There are 6,200 companies within the plastics industry.
Thanks to BPF for the fascinating data, we think the plastics industry is pretty amazing!