Discarded, incorrectly disposed and unrecycled plastic has become problematic and a threat to entire ecosystems.
Plastic's weakness in the natural world, is its strength in our industrial society today.
The synthetic material made from a wide range of organic polymers started mass production six decades ago*. Extremely durable, plastic is resistant to extreme environments and most chemicals over a long life span.
It delivers unparalleled design versatility over a wide range of operating temperatures, offering a high strength-to-weight ratio and toughness yet is also flexible with benefits that are unmatched by any other material.
Plastic has become an essential material and is undeniably beneficial to the advances of society, contributing to medical applications, car efficiency and the distribution of goods.
However, beach litter surveys have shown us that most of the plastic waste at the root of the problem, is entirely made up of single-use** ‘throwaway items’ such as plastic bottles, straws, cotton buds and food packaging.
Therefore the key to a better future without plastic waste, is us.
Us as individuals, responsible manufacturers, policy makers, consumers, family units, us as human beings.
And right now, as the collective ‘Us’, we simply aren’t doing enough.
But things can change.
We know that some thermosetting plastics*** cannot be viably recycled at all. This is due to their molecular bonds which do not melt with heat, but burn.
However, the vast majority of thermoplastic products we use in our everyday lives can be recycled and reused.
Globally we have generated 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic since production of the material began and a staggering 91% has not been recycled.****
In the UK 3.7 million tonnes of plastic has been generated of which 29% is recycled.*****
An estimated 100,000 tonnes of plastic waste from EU countries ends up in the sea every year from coastal land areas alone.******
We clearly need to radically improve the ability to recycle plastic and improve our plastic recycling habits to protect our planet.
As a responsible manufacturer, we understand our role in terms of the quality, recyclability and recovery of the materials and products we design along with our duties to ensure our manufacturing processes do not impact negatively on the environment.
So now awareness of the plastic problem is high, let's boost understanding of plastic materials and the solutions available to us now, as the benefits of recycling plastic are beyond invaluable to us all.