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The contradictions and strengths of plastics

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article image A perfect use for recycled plastics

The argument over the usefulness of plastics has raged for decades. It really is a Jekyll and Hyde material, and the issue has never been resolved. There are compelling reasons for the contradiction, which Polysource Australia like to summarized thus: Their strengths are also their weaknesses.

For example, some features of Plastics are: 

  • "Lightweight". Plastic components save huge amounts of energy and greenhouse gas emissions, through lighter air, rail and road transportation. Yet their light weight means they are limited in structural applications.. 
  • "Durable". The protection of machiinery by Plastic wear parts is assisted by their low friction properties. Yet this characteristic makes Plastic flooring panels slippery. 
  • "Insulating". The heat and electrical insulating properties of Plastics are well known. But highly insulating materials also build up static electricity, whose discharge is dangerous in certain applications e.g. ungerground mines. 
  • "Long-lasting". The resistance of Plastic sewerage pipes to biodegradation saves the world's cities from catastrophic pollution. However, Plastic land fill pollution is a growing problem.

This last feature best defines the contradiction of Plastics. However, Thermoplastics have a silver lining, in being recyclable. The percentage of recycled Thermoplastics is steadily increasing, with the application of new technology and economic benefits. Uses are being discovered where recycled Plastics are now the Material of Choice, rather than a poor cousin.

Examples include: 

  • Drainage channels and grates 
  • Stormwater pipes 
  • Pallets 
  • Wharf fenders 
  • Boardwalks

This is turning a weakness into a strength.

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