Plastics get a bad name in the media these days. While there are many good reasons for this, not least of which is widespread pollution, this is only one side of the coin. Many people will tell you plastic is bad, but aren’t able to accurately define what plastic even is.
In this article we will briefly explain what plastics are, and go on to explain some of the exciting, recent innovations in this industry.
What is Plastic?
Plastics are synthetic, or semi-synthetic polymers. Most commonly plastics are polymers of chemical monomers derived from petroleum however plastics can also be manufactured from plant fibres and other renewable materials. Plasticity is a property of materials that can deform without breaking, commonly described as flexibility, which is extremely relevant and important to the widespread application of plastics throughout the world. Plastics are mouldable, and can therefore be shaped into a wide variety of products for a multitude of applications.
A major benefit of petroleum based plastics is also a major environmental problem, namely their stability. The fact that plastics can hold so many different materials, from strong acids to paints, oils and all manner of aqueous solutions without breaking down has led them to replace many traditional materials in recent years. Subsequent to their designed application however this same property means these plastics will survive and pollute the environment for future generations. In direct response to this, chemists all over the world are working on ways to break down plastic already in the environment and create plastics that break down on their own.
Bioplastics are made using plant fibres, such as corn starch and cellulose. These materials decompose naturally in compost environments although it may take some time.
Biodegradable plastics can still be made from petroleum but are designed to break down in different ways due to additives added to the plastic. Depending upon the product specification these may still create residues and may not be viable for compost bin disposure.
Plastic into Oil
Most plastics are a by-product of oil so many researchers and business people are excited about the prospect of converting it back into oil for automotive and industry application. There are several companies investigating the idea and in the process of setting up pilot plants to test the procedure.
Proponents are keen to capitalize on the free feedstock, end-of-life plastic, and convert or recycle it into a profit generating material. They argue it can reduce demands on petroleum extraction and provide impetus for collection of plastic pollution. There is considerable opposition to the idea too, and a plant planned for Canberra has recently been scrapped.
One thing is certain, this topic will remain hotly contested for years to come so watch this space.
Contact Dolphin Plastics for all your Plastics Needs
Dolphin Plastics are a business to business supplier of plastics in Queensland distributing nationwide. To discuss how our products can be integrated into yours call us today on 07 5493 4133 or contact us online.