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The plastics industry joins the coronavirus pandemic fighting and supports the health care measures

23 april 2020
Contrary to the negative, full-force image campaign designed to tarnish the plastics processing industry’s reputation we have observed in recent months, it is worth drawing all the citizens’ attention to a specific paradox which has demonstrated only recently.

When we are all facing the life and health threat, many dilettantes and ignorants have seen for themselves (or at least should have opened their eyes) - plastics are now "our real salvation". Plastics are first and foremost used for personal protective equipment production. Plastics are used for ensuring proper sanitary conditions, people protection as well as food safeguarding and preservation against contamination.  Human life and health cannot be properly protected without plastics.

Lack of basic knowledge, inability to assess the situation and relate the state of affairs (e.g. legal, functional, material, technological, technical aspects) combined with populist launching campaigns to spread clichéd myths may lead to the public communication space destruction. This disrupts proper message circulation and leads to general public misunderstanding.

Let us call a spade a spade - the world cannot possibly go without plastics. This is a general and the most important message. The opinion is supported with decades of experience. Plastics offer a combination of unique performance properties. No other material may provide an alternative to plastics when it comes to the application described.  Plastics’ excellent mechanical and thermal properties, low specific gravity, processing and products forming ease, economic efficiency combined with the a number of modern technologies make plastics ubiquitous in every area of our lives.  No plastics means no modern medical equipment, life-saving apparatuses, safe vehicles which provide mobility, constructions ensuring life comfort and adequate level of human health safety.  

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To make the picture even more complete, it is worth quoting some plastics medical applications. Not only do we speak about the COVID-19 era when face-shields, protective masks, goggles, glasses, gloves, covers are mandatory. There are also all kinds of catheters, drains, sutures, dressings, medical equipment components, syringes, infusers, respirators, etc.  Suddenly plastics turn out to be our protective weapon which save our lives and well-being.  Many have demonstrated hatred towards polyvinyl chloride, polyethylene terephthalate, polypropylene and polyethylene - now these plastics are at the forefront of the fight against the virus. They offer us a chance to win the unequal combat against the virus.   

We should also remember that plastics offer more durable and at the same time lighter constructions not only do they guarantee an adequate safety level, but also a lower noise ambience, exhaust emissions reduction. And on top of that, plastics save lives, but this has already been mentioned.  Those who have difficulty understanding these facts should imagine the world without plastics. Try imagining the reality where all plastics and plastic based products are eliminated.  Remove plastics from homes, offices, means of transport, public utilities, hospitals, schools and, last but not leas - strip ourselves of plastics, i.e. our clothing. Technological evolution has always been based on economic foundations. This evolution resulted in the fact that human life is inextricably intertwined with plastics. The material that befits the 21st century’s needs.

It is also worth emphasizing that plastics’ barrier properties are used to safeguard food and beverages against the harmful effects of external factors which normally reduce products shelf life. This counterweights the huge problem our civilization is facing - goods go wasted in some places whilst people in other regions of the world are facing severe shortages.

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Now plastics are recognized as the main environmental degradation "culprit".   This may be seen as an indirect result of plastics’ qualities which include durability and resistance to degradation.  Are you sure about that?

Plastic waste is ubiquitous. In a way this is a determinant of human existence and activity. According to scientists, this is the sign of our times, an imprint in environment.  Plastics themselves are not his biggest problem,  plastics post-service life utilization and rendering harmless becomes the key issue.  Instead of declaring a war on plastics, we would rather opt for a radical change, for systemic solutions aimed at rational reuse of plastic products after the life cycle ends.  

There is a kind of the global plastics economy’s weakness. The world has not foreseen such a dynamic consumption increase and has not thus developed timely, appropriate mechanisms and tools for comprehensive waste management.  Contrary to popular clichéd belief, the recycling industry is now facing the processing capacity insufficiency to respond to the amount of the waste generated. This has been demonstrated by a kind of crisis caused by market and legal changes.  This results in the situation of improperly prepared waste which may not be reversed into the cycle as a raw material. This waste has now become unnecessary matter and thus collection and disposal generates additional costs.  That is why it is worth focusing on proper plastic waste segregation, product design (including packaging) so that further use and recycling is possible ("eco-design"). Raising ecological awareness of the whole society is also important and should reflect facts and figures. An appropriate and comprehensive incentive system designed for the entire plastics recycling sector is also needed - this would trigger a mentality change, a different perception of waste which is reversed into the cycle and reused as a full-grade raw material for further industry use and processing.

Instead of hurdling blame on durable, functional and inexpensive materials. we should instil a mentality change, shape a different perception so that the world appreciates the fact that we cannot go without plastics.  What would the world without plastics be like? Would it continue or cease to exist?  Instead of fighting against plastics, let us fight against littering the world and myths propagation. Let us combat the negative image. 

In fact, we all need to understand that PLASTICS SAVE THE LIFE AND HEALTH OF ALL OF US EVERY DAY. Plastics are an integral and inseparable element of our reality. This is our role to develop rational and fully valuable use of plastics’ unique properties.

source: WWW.TWORZYWA.PL website

(AO)

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