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Can Plastic Be Eco-Friendly?

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Plastic accumulation is a serious environmental threat, but the polymer’s wide applicability across several industries is also an undeniable fact. The use of plastic has been minimized quite significantly over the last decade, but it is impossible to completely replace plastic as a manufacturing and packaging material in all sectors. Therefore, research is now focused on:

bioplastic

  • Creation of brand-new plastic polymers that do not harm the environment.
  • Changing chemical aspects of existing plastic polymers to make them relatively eco-friendly.

Is Bioplastic Really Eco-friendly?

There is sufficient evidence to suggest that bioplastic (corn or potato starch plastic) contributes just as much to pollution and toxicity as artificial plastics. Check this article on the US National Library of Medicine site to know more regarding the failures of bioplastic.

What is Eco-friendly Plastic?

Some of the newer artificial polymers such as HDPE may still be toxic under certain conditions but compared to older generations of plastics such as polyethylene terephthalate, they are significantly safer. Technically, biodegradable, non-toxic plastic polymers from any origin can be classified as eco-friendly plastic, but none of the existing polymers qualify as being 100% safe and eco-friendly.

Is the Cost of Plastic Rising Due to Environmental Dangers and Its Potential Toxicity?

Increased awareness has led to minimal usage of plastic where possible, but that has nothing to do with the hiked cost of industrial plastics. Unexpected, hostile weather conditions in key plastic manufacturing regions (US), and the ongoing pandemic are causing major disturbances within the supply chain. Among the industries that are worst affected by this sudden inflation in the cost of plastic polymers, sanitation tops the list. Check this post to know how the rising costs of plastics can be managed strategically by sanitation companies, without sacrificing profitability.

Which are the Safest Plastics?

As mentioned, none of the present plastic polymers can be called 100% eco-friendly, but there are safer options available for human usage. The following plastics have been found to be conditionally nontoxic for humans:

  • High-density polyethylene (HDPE)
  • Low-density polyethylene (LDPE)
  • Polypropylene (PP)

After being discarded, the polymers mentioned here can potentially leave toxic residues behind as well. The only difference is that when these are recycled and properly deconstructed at the end of their recyclability, plastic pollution is effectively minimized.

Which are the Most Harmful Plastics?

All plastic polymers not mentioned in the earlier segment are comparatively harmful, but not equally so. Despite their high toxicity and low recyclability, the following plastics are still used in a variety of manufacturing and packaging industries.

  • Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) may lead to antimony trioxide and phthalates leaching, establishing it as a carcinogenic resin.
  • Polystyrene (PS) may leach styrene, which is a verified carcinogen.
  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is the most toxic, carcinogenic, growth-inhibiting plastic polymer in existence, containing BPA, phthalates, mercury, lead, dioxins, and cadmium.

Plastic is not entirely replaceable, but we can still make it less harmful for ourselves and the environment by selecting better, safer versions. To be able to truly control the negative impacts of plastic, manufacturing and packaging industries need to be more stringent with their manufacturing steps and choice of polymers.

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Homepage » Environmental Protection » Can Plastic Be Eco-Friendly?