Plastics are some of the most useful and versatile materials known to man, used for many years across the globe in an array of industries and applications. In modern times, with increasing environmental concerns to take into account, the role of plastics in today's world has been questioned.
However, while the usage and disposal of certain plastics need to be regulated in order to protect the planet, it's clear to see that plastics still have a lot to offer. Indeed, in many cases, evidence shows that they can be more environmentally friendly than a lot of alternatives.
Plastics can be immensely strong and highly resistant, with some even able to compete with the likes of steel in terms of their strength and durability. What's more, thanks to the ways in which plastics are made, it's possible to create plastic sheets and products that are astonishingly thin and lightweight, yet extraordinarily long-lasting.
Given that countless industries demand strong and solid tools and products, the durability of plastic is an extremely appealing characteristic. From its usage in medical tools to factory equipment to household appliances to automobiles, plastic is consistently put to the test in an array of extreme conditions, demonstrating its ability to withstand all kinds of pressure and stay strong through it all.
Arguably one of the most incredible advantages of working with plastic is its versatility. It can come in many forms and be molded into almost any shape imaginable. To get an idea of the versatility of plastic, we only need to consider the plastic items we see and use each and every day, both in our personal and professional lives.
From plastic bags that can be used to carry items from place to place to plastic chairs in office buildings, plastic pots and bottles in the kitchen, plastic components of the cars we drive, plastic containers in the bathroom, plastic parts of our computers and phones, and so much more, the variety is almost endless.
So Many Options
Following on from the previous point, one cannot possibly discuss the benefits of plastic without also mentioning its extraordinary variety. Because of course, when we talk about plastics, we're actually talking about a whole range of different materials, from polystyrene to PVC, each one with its own properties and functions.
Rudimentary plastics using organic materials were used many centuries ago, but it was only in the 19th century, with the Industrial Revolution, that we started to see modern chemical plastics take off in a big way, and since then, many new types of plastics have been discovered and created, with various sub-categories of these plastics giving manufacturers and producers so many options to choose from.
Highly Affordable and Cost-Effective
Another one of the many benefits of plastic is the fact that it can be extremely cheap to produce and use, especially when compared to more costly alternatives like woods and metals. Making an item out of plastic, which can be easily shaped and formed, for example, is often a lot cheaper than trying to make the very same product using metals, which can often be a lot harder to work with.
This allows companies to save money when fabricating all kinds of products, and those savings also get passed on to consumers around the globe. Cheap plastics can be used in all kinds of communities, particularly proving useful in poorer parts of the world, where access to expensive metals and other costly materials is much more limited.
While plastic is often targeted when talking about climate change and environmental awareness, it's actually one of the most sustainable materials known to man. While single-use plastic cups, straws, and similar items may not be the best options for eco-friendly lifestyles, plastics on a broader scale are recycled at incredible rates, with billions of tons of plastic recycled in the US alone, every single year.
Unlike so many other materials, plastic is perfectly-suited for the process of recycling. It's also exceptionally resource-efficient, being highly resistant to corrosion and saving huge amounts of both water and carbon dioxide when compared to the use of other materials like metals, glass, and paper.
For an example of how sustainable plastic really is, experts suggest that if we were to stop using plastic packaging, production and energy costs around the world could double due to the added weight of other forms of packaging being used as a replacement, leading to far more waste than ever before.
As mentioned briefly earlier on, one of the most impressive aspects of plastic is that not only can it be incredibly strong, but it's also amazingly light. This is one of the best benefits of all, as it means that plastic products, plastic packaging, and other forms of plastic can be used and transported more cheaply since they're a lot lighter to transport, which reduces energy costs and makes plastic even more efficient.
Taking the above example of packaging once again, we can see that alternatives to plastic packaging - like paper, glass, steel, rubber, textiles, and cork - would weigh around 4.5 times as much as plastic, on average, were they to be used as replacements. This simply serves to show that the lightweight nature of plastic is key to helping mankind continue to function and grow, while also reducing our impact on the planet.
It's clear to see that plastics have a lot to offer, and the benefits listed above are just a small selection of unique advantages offered by these materials. There are many other pros to making use of plastic over other materials, such as how easy it is to work with and its accessibility all over the world. Thanks to these many benefits, plastic has helped to change our lives for the better and will continue to do so in the years ahead.