THE PAVILIONS PHUKET BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET Kata Rocks
Login | Create Account Poll Currency Weather Facebook Youtube Search

Plastic…not so fantastic

It’s the worst enemy of environmental campaigners, but people around the world use mountains of plastic every day and business is booming for manufacturers.

CultureCommunity
By AFP

Sunday 22 July 2018, 09:00AM


The growing problem of waste products  Photo:Noel Celis

The growing problem of waste products Photo:Noel Celis

Much to the chagrin of activists, an increasingly restrictive regulatory environment appears to have put little dent in the industry's power so far. That is changing, however, and plastic giants are starting to adapt.

From 2006 to 2016, global plastic output rose from 245 million to 348 million tonnes, according to the PlasticsEurope trade association. Production rose by 3.9 percent in 2017. In 2016 the growth rate stood at 4.0 percent, and in 2015 at 3.5 percent.

Demand for thermoplastics alone - which includes the most common kinds of plastic, such as PET used in water bottles, polypropylene, polyethylene and PVC - has soared by 4.7 percent yearly from 1990 to 2017.


"Is this going to continue in the coming years? We can assume it will," said Herve Millet, technical and regulatory affairs manager at PlasticsEurope. "The reasons why plastic (production is) growing worldwide are not just going to go away all at once," he added.‘The growth of the plastics industry goes hand-in-hand with economic development,” Millet said.


The more an economy grows, the more plastic is used in construction, infrastructural development, electrical and electronic industries, and transport.

Single-use plastic packaging - the nemesis of environmental activists - is also in strong demand in developing countries.

Even in Europe, where anti-plastics campaigning has been especially vigorous, packaging accounts for 40 percent of consumption. But the world's leading producer of plastic is China. Today it holds a whopping 29 percent of the market share, up from 15 percent just a decade ago.

European, US and Japanese plastic manufacturers have meanwhile seen their market share shrink.

Where Western producers are doing especially well is in the development of so-called specialty plastics used in the construction, automobile, medical and other industries. New polymers are also being used in the aviation and space industry, as well as in the creation of speciality athletic footwear.

Pierre Gadrat, who heads the chemicals and materials division of France-based consulting firm Alcimed, said this sector "is just as dynamic, if not more, than before".


The growth of the plastic industry defies concerted efforts from activists around the world, as well as an increasingly hostile regulatory environment.
Under pressure from campaigners, the European Union, Britain, India and even fast food giants like McDonald's have all made some headway towards bringing the use of disposable plastic straws to an end.


Plastic bags are also being phased out in countries around the world, while France is set to introduce a ban on plastic plates, cups and cutlery in 2020.
Emmanuel Guichard of French plastic packaging federation Elipso said the drive to end the use of single-use plastic "does not weigh massively on growth in the sector".

However, "with all these regulatory measures coming into force, we can't imagine that they won't have an impact at some stage", he added.

As public awareness grows about the terrible harm plastic pollution causes to the world's oceans and seas, manufacturing giants are starting to worry about their image.

"Plastic as a whole is becoming stigmatised," Millet of PlasticsEurope said.

In a bid to keep their names clean, plastic industry leaders are recycling more, following the lead of product manufacturers.

"Under regulatory pressure, plastic waste could potentially become... less seen as waste and more as a valuable raw material," Gadrat said.

Producers of other raw materials such as metals, glass and cardboard have already fully integrated waste into their production cycles.

"This is the future of plastic: a scenario where the industry manages its raw materials and its recycled resources," said Paris-based waste management company Citeo's chief scientist Carlos de Los Llanos.

"It will probably take a few years," he said, adding: "It takes learning how to do it."


AFP

 

 

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
Security:

Be the first to comment.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
Over 1,000 arrested in Phuket ‘Operation X-Ray Outlaw Foreigner’ clampdown

I think Phuket would be a better, safer place if the government applied as many resources to crack d...(Read More)


Fishing the exotic

Dragging an animal around via a steel hook in its mouth, until it dies, or is put thru huge distress...(Read More)


VIDEO: An Inside Look at the Phuket Vegetarian Festival

"Unfortunately there are some that still don't have a clue," true, and it's you....(Read More)


Phuket Vegetarian Festival takes to the streets

"Well you did actually, that's because you have no idea of what the piercing signifies,&quo...(Read More)


Chinese tourist volume continues dip, but FITs rise

Devaluate the Baht and clean up the tourist destinations and western tourists will come back....(Read More)


Phuket rubbish collector killed in road accident

"still doesn't make any sense" and therefore lies the problem, you just don't, can...(Read More)


One dead in ‘Phoenix’ salvage operation

"There is no need for idiots on here to surmise what occured," and you keep commenting... ...(Read More)


Chinese tourist volume continues dip, but FITs rise

In China people are waiting for 'salvage' of the Phoenix. By now, just 3.5 months talk abo...(Read More)


 

Melbourne Cup 2018