A world of plastic

 

A plastic material is any of a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic solids that are moldable and today play a major role in both trade and consumer lifestyles.


Plastics are typically organic polymers of high molecular mass, but they often contain other substances. They are usually synthetic, most commonly derived from petrochemicals, but many are partially natural.  

Plastics play a major role in delivering and sustaining the quality, comfort and safety of modern lifestyles, says Plastics SA. 

Plastic’s impressive ratio of cost to performance also means that people of all income groups can enjoy these benefits and the plastics industry continues to innovate in order to advance its contribution to society. 

Plastics are one of the most resource-efficient materials available today and products made from plastics help save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Plastic products are lightweight, which translates into fuel savings during transportation. Their protective properties prevent losses due to damaged goods and their insulating properties save energy that would otherwise be required for heating or air conditioning. 

Did you know that plastic products also save energy at the end of their life cycle – either through recycling or recovery of energy from waste? A recent study found that if plastics were to be replaced by alternative materials, there would be additional energy requirements of around 10 percent or about 25 million tonnes of crude oil, which corresponds to 105 million tonnes of CO2 greenhouse gas emissions per year. This is equivalent to a third of the Kyoto reduction targets for EU-15 countries. 

In terms of packaging alone, a separate study found that the use of plastics in packaging (versus alternative materials) saves 582.6 million gigajoules of energy per year. That is the equivalent of 101.3 million barrels of oil.

However, innovation to meet the needs of society is not just about “today’’. Future generations also have the right to material and other benefits. Meeting the needs of tomorrow is the foundation of the concept of “Sustainable Development’. Plastic products are already helping daily to improve people’s lives, whilst conserving natural resources and helping to protect the environment for tomorrow, in a world that is growing in population, with ever-increasing demands for water, food, shelter, sanitation, energy, health services and economic security.

 

What is BPA?

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical used to make polycarbonate (PC) and epoxy.  BPA is the building block, from which plastics are made.    

PC positively contributes to the consumer’s comfort and has become indispensable because of its impact and shatter resistance, clarity, high heat resistance, and electrical resistance.  It is used for safety glasses, visors and lenses, CDs and DVDs, computers, kitchen appliances, power tools, sports equipment (helmets and goggles), medical devices and some food and drink containers. 

 

What is the issue around BPA? 

Some reports suggest that BPA has estrogenic effects in laboratory animals where large doses of BPA were administered. Concerns were raised about the safety of PC products, particularly baby bottles.  

 

How safe is BPA for humans?

Much research has been done to identify any possible human effects of BPA on the human body, leading to an impressive amount of evidence that supports the safety of BPA for use in its current applications.  

Past and present studies confirm that BPA is rapidly absorbed, detoxified and eliminated from the body.  The metabolic rate is approximately four hours, which means that BPA is essentially eliminated from the body within the day of exposure and does not accumulate in the body.  

 

Banning of BPA Products

Various governments around the globe have banned PC baby bottles to respond to consumer concerns. 

In South Africa, the Minister of Health has banned the manufacturing, importation, exportation and sale of polycarbonate (PC) infant feeding bottles containing Bisphenol A, as published in the Government Gazette. Plastics SA supports the government’s decision.

Plastics SA is proud to announce that all food plastics packaging, including baby bottles and other beverage bottles are – 100% BPA free, and pose no threat to your health or the environment.

The list of uses for plastics is endless, explains Lumoss Mouldings, who manufacture and brand a large range of promotional and retail plastic products. Sports bottles, lanyards, key rings, rulers, desk top stationery items, frisbees, lunch boxes, yoyos, badges, fridge magnets, swizzle sticks, ice buckets, plastic glasses, plastic plates, plastic bowls and trays.

Plastic manufacturer Durattract emphasises the fact that plastic is durable and often more cost effective as it lasts a lifetime. They can’t and won’t limit themselves to one product as the plastic clientele
is so diverse. 

 

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