Plastics Lifecycle – the Long & Short of It

Jun 15th 2023

Plastics Lifecycle – the Long & Short of It

Epoxy Resin We Like to Last – Some Other Plastics – Not So Much

As you Epoxy Pros know, there are many different types and consistencies of plastics available today. Epoxy Resins are harnessed for many reasons and results including their resistance to corrosion and moisture, durability and versatility for a wide variety of applications. But what about plastics that we’d rather wouldn’t “hang around” quite as long - such as those that are recyclable but often tend to end up on our landscape or in our oceans?

For instance, as online shopping becomes an ever-growing percentage of global commerce with subsequent increases in shipping and delivery; the volume of packaging generated is also vastly increasing. Cardboard boxes and protective wraps and other packaging may be recycled and reused, however traditional shipping supplies like Styrofoam peanuts, may take years or even decades to degrade or compost. Fortunately, alternative materials have been developed…

Biodegradable packaging is made from renewable sources, harvested directly from nature and can completely decompose with the aid of microorganisms. They do not contain harmful chemicals or plastic coatings, nor do they require excessive energy to be produced. Food packaging and shipping peanuts made from cornstarch, which dissolves readily in water, is one successful example of biodegradable packing in use today.

Reusing cardboard boxes and making packaging from newspaper or magazines are great ways to ship from home as these are recyclable and biodegradable materials. The real challenge, however, is getting manufacturers and suppliers to integrate environmentally-friendly packaging, either recyclable, biodegradable, or both, into their order-fulfillment supply chains – as this is where the vast majority of packing materials are used.

New science is being developed to address another huge source of waste, and aid recycling efforts - namely plastic bottles. ‘ Newly-Developed Enzyme That Breaks Down Plastic Bottles in Hours is on Track to Change the Recycling Game,’ by Andy Corbley states, “Utilizing an enzyme found within composted leaves, scientists are now breaking down plastic all the way into a recyclable form in a matter of hours.”

Carbios, the French company responsible for the breakthrough, is already collaborating with Pepsi and L’Oréal to unleash industrial market-scale production of the new substance within five years. “We are the first company to bring this technology on the market,” the deputy chief executive at Carbios, Martin Stephan, told The Guardian. “Our goal is to be up and running by 2024–2025, at large industrial scale.”