Plastic: Is it a Yay or Nay?

Many environmentalists assert that plastic is the ultimate evil in destroying the planet. Indeed, heaping volumes of plastic waste are produced every year, making it a serious global concern. Plastic is also not easy to avoid because of its extensive usage and distribution, from food packaging to residential furnishings. However, is plastic as bad as it appears to be?

You may already be used to being told about plastic’s negative effects. But, as a refreshing change, we’ll explore the several advantages of using plastic below:

Plastic packaging helps combat the food waste problem

The continuous increase in volumes of generated food waste is a pressing environmental issue. This is mainly because food scraps in landfills are responsible for an estimated 20% of methane emissions, a greenhouse gas that greatly contributes to climate change.

Matt Petronzio of Mashable.com reports that over one-third of all food products in the world are either being spoiled or discarded.

In the United States, approximately 40% of purchased foods end up being thrown away. As for Western Australia, Perth Now states that households waste a total of about $9.6 billion worth of food items per year.

One small solution for this problem is packaging food because, as Steve Russell of the American Chemistry Council noted, the longer food items are kept fresh, the higher is the chance that they will be consumed.

Several studies suggest that when wrapped in plastic packaging, bananas can last 21 days longer. As for beef, when it’s wrapped in plastic vacuum packaging with a film barrier, its shelf life can be prolonged up to 26 days. Countries that package more food also tend to generate drastically less food waste.

Manufacturing of plastic provides employment opportunities

Plastic is a leading material used for myriads of industrial applications. Aside from the packaging of food items and common daily goods, it’s also utilised immensely in the production of construction tools, scientific instruments, medical equipment, personal electronics, residential furniture, and children’s toys. Moreover, even in the automotive industry, it’s used for manufacturing many parts of vehicles.

Therefore, the production of plastic is economically significant. Factories provide employment opportunities for job-seekers. In addition, the industries that use it are in great need of plastic materials. If plastic production will be halted, many individuals will lose their source of income and numerous businesses will face serious troubles in finding another appropriate and affordable material.

Plastic is an ideal material for essential systems

Plastic toy blocks on white background

A particular type of plastic that’s important and common is polyethylene, with about 80 million tonnes being produced globally. Polyethylene is classified as a thermoplastic, meaning it can be melted and remoulded into other forms, and can even be engineered to suit specific purposes. Thus, polyethylene is a versatile and cost-effective plastic.

Moreover, polyethylene is vital for telecommunication and electrical systems because it’s used to coat wirings and cables. This affirms that the distribution of electricity in households will be largely affected by the lack of plastic.

In addition, poly pipes and fittings are ideal for many piping systems due to its low permeability, excellent plasticity, and superb barrier against fluids. Poly pipes used in Perth also don’t contaminate water, so its usage is much safer than other metal-derived materials that cause internal rusting.

Plastic is not entirely bad — in fact, it’s a useful material. Instead of banning its usage, it’s better to encourage the public to engage in sustainable practices like reusing and recycling. It’s also helpful to set regulatory standards on processes of producing plastic items. By ensuring that factories don’t produce pollutants, we can enjoy the advantages of plastic while also lowering its environmental impact.