We know plastics have played a huge part in making our everyday lives convenient but did you know that plastics play an important role in reducing solid waste and benefitting the environment? A new study by Earth Engineering Centre College of New York found that plastics help reduce our environment’s overall municipal solid waste even when consumption and income rises.
Going by history, the amount of municipal solid waste produced by a country rises with the economy. According to studies, in 2010, the amount of waste produced in the world was greatly reduced even though there was a rise in consumer spending. This decline was attributed to the increased use of plastic in packaging.
Think about it. Plastics are lightweight, cheap, and durable. They can block out UV light and serve as a protective barrier from gases for extensive periods. They also act as a poor breeding ground for bacteria and germs, thus making the packaging of food and other products sterile. Plastics have been replacing expensive and valuable materials for decades now and have always played an important role in delivering sustainable outcomes. By using fewer materials, plastics help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, waste generation as well as save energy.
To understand the vital role of plastics in packaging, Earth Engineering Centre carried out studies where other materials were used for packaging instead of plastic. The research showed that on average, products that are made with alternative materials require 3.2 times more material than plastic. For packaging, the combined weight of alternative materials is about 4.5 times more than the weight of plastic packaging. With studies like these, it is easy to understand the impact plastic has had on solid waste, weight, and volume reduction over the years.
Since the introduction of plastics in our society, they have repeatedly proved their importance and will continue to do so with years to come.