Innovative plastics contribute to a better world
Plastics are the source of a huge, continually expanding range of innovations that contribute to sustainability, safety, longer lives and better performance. In our everyday lives at home, in the office, and on the road, plastics are there, fulfilling some essential role in an efficient, convenient and cost-effective manner.
Here are just some of the ways in which plastics help improve our lives:
Improving your vehicle’s fuel economy and reducing its greenhouse gas emissions
Strong, lightweight plastics and plastic composites allow the weight of a vehicle to be reduced. As a result, less power is required to get it moving and less energy is needed to maintain a constant speed. Consequently, your fuel economy is improved, saving you money, and greenhouse gas emissions are reduced.
Improving vehicle safety
Modern plastics and composites are used in a vehicle’s bumpers, doors, seat belts, airbags, dashboards and even drive shafts, contributing greatly to the safety of today’s vehicles and helping to save thousands of lives every year.
Ditch the aircon – use plastic film instead and eliminate greenhouse gas emissions
Air-conditioning systems used to cool homes and offices are not only expensive for the user, they increase emissions of greenhouse gases in the form of carbon dioxide from burning power-station fuel and the hydrofluorocarbons they use as refrigerants. Scientists at the University of Colorado have invented a film that can cool buildings without the use of refrigerants and without drawing any power to do so. Even better, it can be made using standard roll-to-roll manufacturing methods at a cost of around US$0.50 cents (€0.42) a square metre.
Plastronics – at the intersection of electronics and plastic
Plastronics imbues plastics with “intelligence” by integrating electrical functions into moulded plastic objects. Plastronics creates, smaller, more beautiful and more resistant objects and represents a new technology without which many connected objects would never have seen the light of day.
Transforming plastic waste into fuel or energy and reducing plastics going into landfill
Plastics that are not currently recycled are typically viewed as “rubbish” that adds to the discarded materials going into landfill sites. However, these plastics can now be efficiently converted into fuel or energy.
“Portable solar power”
A plastic coating can let light into solar cells, and also keep water out. This could lead to the creation of bendable/stretchy solar cells that could for example be embedded in clothing that can be tossed in the laundry.
Making your food last longer while benefitting the environment
Excessive packaging on food is, quite rightly, frowned upon. However, modern food packaging can help your food last much longer, reducing not only food waste, but also the waste of all the resources used to grow, transport and package the food. By making food last longer, for example with efficient vacuum packaging, we are also ensuring that precious resources are used more efficiently
For more news on plastics innovation
For more about these and other innovations made possible by plastics, see: