Plastics are synthetic polymers. There are hundreds of different varieties of plastic made from different starting materials, with different properties and niche uses. The varieties of different plastics are further expanded by different production methods, meaning that the same polymer can produce a range of different plastics. This includes high density polyethylene, which is the consistency of credit cards, and low-density polyethylene, the material used to make different forms of flexible packaging. In this article, we will expand on some of the unexpected places plastic can be found in our day to day lives.
Polylactic Acid (PLA) is a biodegradable plastic or ‘bioplastic’ that is derived from natural sources such as corn starch or sugar cane. It decomposes into lactic acid, the same molecule that anaerobic respiration generates from glucose. This degradation pathway is therefore easily accommodated within the human body, and that’s why PLA is used in medical implants. It is particularly useful for surgical implants that are designed to break down slowly, including screws, pins, rods, meshes and plates that can be designed to break down over between six months to two years depending upon the role of the implant.
The presence of plastic in tea bags surprises a lot of people because it doesn’t seem possible! However, there is plastic in almost every variety of tea bag. Polypropylene is present at different concentrations, up to around 25% to help maintain the shape of the tea bag and prevent it breaking apart when hot water is added. For this reason, it is worth noting that tea bags are not a great thing to put into the compost.
Paper Coffee Cups
It seems like a misnomer, but paper coffee cups are actually not made entirely out of paper. In fact, paper coffee cups, like the kind you will find at almost every coffee shop and convenience store, are lined with plastic. This plastic lining is useful, because it stops the coffee from destroying the paper and spilling out all over your desk, but it makes coffee cups a non-recyclable product that clogs landfills. Because the paper itself will break down over time, the presence of so many paper coffee cups in landfills creates the conditions for producing large quantities of methane.
Need Sustainable Plastic Solutions?
Dolphin Plastics & Packaging is a leading flexible packaging manufacturer based in Queensland. We are committed to producing sustainable plastic packaging solutions for organisations in a variety of industries across Queensland and down the east coast of Australia.
To find out more about how we can help you, call Dolphin Plastics & Packaging today on (07) 5610 5278 or contact us online.