There are some things in life that are so commonplace that we barely think about them. Take plastic, for instance. Ever since human beings figured out how to manipulate polymers, plastics have increasingly become integral to our daily lives. Do you really know just how much plastic affects your life?
The ongoing drive to eliminate fossil fuels suggests that most people do not understand the profound impact plastics have made on the world. Get rid of fossil fuels and plastics go with them. So we have to accept fossil fuels as being here to stay or find other ways to make plastic. It is either that or go without plastics altogether.
- Plastics at Home
It’s easy to suggest that we stop using plastic. After all, the world existed just fine for thousands of years before plastics were invented. The real question is whether we are willing to give up all the things that plastics bring to the table. Let us start in the home.
Look around your kitchen, laundry room, etc. Between both major and smaller appliances, you are going to find a ton of plastic. Everything from your coffee maker to the internal components in your clothes dryer are made from plastic. It’s not a matter of replacing the plastic with another material. In many cases, there is no viable material to use in its place.
The arena of electronics is where plastics become real to most people. Everything from your smartphone to the flatscreen TV on which you stream your favorite shows contains copious amounts of plastic. They would not exist without plastic.
You could literally spend all day digging around your house and finding products containing plastic. The point is this: our homes are permeated with plastic. They would look a lot different if plastic no longer existed.
- Plastics Everywhere Else
Just like our homes contain more plastic than we realize, plastic is everywhere. You see it at your workplace. You will find it at the grocery store, department store, and mall. Your doctor and dentist utilize plastic, as does your attorney and your mechanic. Plastics are literally everywhere we turn.
Manufacturers love plastic because it is durable, lightweight, inexpensive, and capable of being molded into just about any shape or form. It is the ideal manufacturing material for so many applications. Until a better material comes along, manufacturers are going to keep using it.
- Recycling Plastic
Any discussion of this type inevitably leads back to the recycling issue. The good side of plastic recycling is that it is quite successful at the industrial level. For example, consider Seraphim Plastics out of Tennessee. They purchase and recycle scrap industrial plastic in seven states including Tennessee, Michigan, and Ohio.
Seraphim makes plastic recycling work by utilizing a quite simple process that transforms commercial plastic waste into a regrind material they can turn around and sell to manufacturers. Moreover, Seraphim is not the only company doing it. Commercial plastic recycling is big business across the country.
The bad side of plastic recycling is found in municipal, curbside recycling programs. They do not work very well. In fact, more and more communities are abandoning their recycling programs because they cost too much money. It doesn’t have to be that way, but it is due to the nature of how consumer plastics are utilized and disposed of.
Plastic impacts our daily lives in ways that are sometimes hard to quantify. Yes, plastic generates a lot of waste. But it is largely responsible for the modern lifestyle we now lead. Eliminate plastic and the world becomes a much different place.