Just before February closes the door on us, it’s AcoZunday again and since we talk a lot about plastic waste, it’s important to us to take a closer look at the the material itself: Polymers. While everybody uses the word „Plastics“, the correct word to summarize this gigantic number of different materials would be „Polymers“.
There are three different groups of materials belonging to the category of polymers: thermoplastics, thermosets and elastomers. Out of those three, thermoplastics are by far the most commonly used and this should also be one of the reasons why everybody just says „plastics“. While the amount of plastics being used in Europe has been shrinking since 2016, the global usage has been rising continuously until before the CoVid pandemic.1
Unfortunately, there is no data available yet to understand the effects of the global on the production volumes of polymers in detail. But there are strong indicators that these special times have further increased the need for plastic products. Increased consumption for medical equipment, packaging for food delivery and online shopping parcels and of course billions of face masks drive the demand for plastic materials further and further.2 At the same time, what we would consider a beacon of hope, the awareness about plastic waste and plastic pollution has become more relevant to greater parts of the global society.3
Fortunately, there has been more and more effort put in to develop alternatives to the use of plastics also for medical applications. Without questioning the great advancements which were achieved in the medical field by expanding the use of plastics and single-use equipment, there has been an overcompensation and in some areas excess of plastic usage according to experts.4
1https://www.plasticseurope.org/application/files/5716/0752/4286/AF_Plastics_the_facts-WEB-2020-ING_FINAL.pdf 2file:///C:/Users/94094/Downloads/TH-AL-20-025-EN-N%20Plastics-%20the%20circular%20economy….pdf 3https://www.sueddeutsche.de/wissen/corona-pandemie-plastik-muell-1.5189027 4https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/can-medical-care-exist-without-plastic