Latest Efforts to Control Plastics in Our Waste Stream
The rise of plastic polymers drastically changed the industrial manufacturing landscape around the world. As new compounds became available, better products and cheaper production techniques led to unprecedented growth in the manufacturing sector. Modern plastics exist in almost every product in use today.
Although this innovative material enables the world’s latest technical innovations, its effects on the environment need to be considered. It’s because of these effects that new efforts to control plastics in our waste stream have received focus from researchers and legislators.
New Methods to Reduce Pollution and Control Plastics in Waste Streams
The recent boom in the production sectors also led to an increase in plastic manufacturing. Due to the versatility of plastic, they remain a favored raw material for products in every sector of the manufacturing industry.
More plastic products now ship globally than ever before. This has made keeping a handle on plastic waste a concern for every government and environmental agency around the world. To maintain productive economies, banning plastics isn’t a viable solution. Instead, manufacturers need to develop innovative ways of reusing and disposing of plastic products. Here are a few of the strategies being employed:
Plastic compounds remain a popular addition to manufacturing cycles as they are pliable and easy-to-shape. This is exactly what makes them highly recyclable. During the recycling process, companies collect plastic waste, sort it by type, then separate and shred the waste before cleaning and melting the compounds into reusable granules.
Polyethylene is the most common type of plastic used in recycling. As it comes in both low-density and high-density compounds, it makes up the majority of plastics in our waste streams. Recycling plastics provides a sustainable source of raw materials. In the U.S., 2.96 million tons of plastics reclaimed from municipal waste in 2017 were recycled. You can see the full list of materials reclaimed from U.S. landfills on this Statista page.
While this number seems significant, plastic pollution in the oceans remains the biggest threat to wildlife and ecosystems. Recycling plastic products is still the best option for controlling the problem in our waste streams.
Better Product Design
Another area where we can reduce the use of plastics is with better product design. Reduction in packaging sizes and the smart design of encasements requires less production of raw plastic materials. By designing smarter products and reducing the types of packaging materials shipped with every item, we can stem the tide and reduce the pollution that ultimately ends up in our oceans.
Using Biodegradable Plastics
One of the best hopes for the future is bioplastics. These are compounds derived from natural substances such as plants, animals, or microorganisms. Scientists and researchers have made major strides in these technologies over the last decade. Although the raw material is, at present, more expensive, most consumers understand that sustainable products are crucial to the health and wellbeing of the environment.
Substances such as Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) and Polylactic Acids (PLAs) have increased in popularity since 2010. These present a real alternative to other plastics that cannot degrade in a natural environment.
Thermal Press Plastic Manufacturing Systems
While plastic is here to stay, designing products with sustainability in mind is part of every organization’s corporate responsibility mandate. Here at Thermal Press, we will work with your product designers to find optimal solutions for your plastic manufacturing requirements. With heat and thermal staking solutions, including customizable press systems, we can assist your organization to limit the impact of your plastic products on the environment.
For detailed information on how to control plastics in your waste streams during the manufacturing process, get in touch with Thermal Press by completing this form or call us at 925-454-9800 today.