The Economy of Plastics

The Economy of Plastics

Plastic products and plastic packaging are a vital part of the global economy. Some estimates place the global plastic packaging industry alone at $80-100 billion US dollars annually. Unfortunately, almost 95% of this value is used once then sent for waste, which includes both consumer and industrial waste. Over the past decades plastic recycling has grown and is helping to reclaim some of the wasted value. Recovering less than 10% of the used plastic packaging value is estimated under $10 billion US dollars annually. Businesses are embracing the use of recycled plastic for their plastic products. We will explore the impact plastics have on our global economy and our environment.

Plastic packaging is a major portion of the global plastic waste issue. Studies have projected with our current growth maintained we will have more plastics than fish by weight in our oceans by the year 2050. These projections are alarming as many under developed countries have not yet embarked on sustainable programs for plastic recycling. More importantly, this plastic waste is a source of value once recycled and made ready for use. Tapping into this resource will be both economically and environmental advantageous.

Although plastic packaging has been contributing to our global issues with waste, it has also been helping maintain other precious resources. Industries have constantly sought ways reduce costs. When the raw material cost can be reduced is both economically better as well as environmentally. For years the auto industry has been able to replace metal parts with plastics. New technology has enabled these businesses to utilize polymers that are both lighter and safer. This saves on uses iron ore, metals and other none renewable resources.

Plastic technology has come a long way since its first use. We now have many methods of creating plastic products and packaging. Rotational molding has emerged a cost effective example of our plastic manufacturing capabilities. This process involves producing products by placing a powder or liquid resin into a metal mold that is rotated in an oven until the resin coats the inside of the mold. The centrifugal force created by the constant rotation of the mold allows the formation of even-walled products. The harden product is then simply removed once the mold cools. This process wastes very little material and excess material is often re-used, thus providing an environmentally friendly and economically feasible option. What kinds of products are made with Rotational Molding? Any object with a hollow part can use rotational molding, such as canoes, kayaks, trash bins, or even little scooters for children. Furthermore, many industries utilize this method for their product manufacturing, such as the transportation, medical, and marine industries. Lastly, due to the adaptability of this process, custom or unique products can be manufactured that are both durable and cost effective.

Plastics are a part in our everyday lives, and it has become apparent that it is a vital part of our economy and environment. We can expect this industry to only improve and grow with further development of our plastic manufacturing and reclaiming technology, thus providing more economically and environmentally beneficial options in the future.

Categories: Business

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