Polythene and plastic are without doubt among the major enemies listed as the “most wanted” by environmentalist movements around the world. They have been accused of a long list of crimes against mother nature. While they may be guilty of one or two transgressions, most of the problems that are attributed to polythene and plastic are actually caused by irresponsible use.
What no one seems to remember is that there is plenty of good that comes from the responsible use of these products. Here are a few good things that can be attributed to polythene and plastic which will hopefully change our attitude to the products and instead shift focus on how we can handle them better.
There are many different ways in which polythene and plastic are used to prevent contamination. One of the best examples where plastic and polythene are used to prevent contamination is in hospitals and medical facilities. Here medical personal use latex surgical gloves to protect themselves and their patients from contamination and infections. While some of the latex used in making these gloves is from natural sources, a lot of it is synthetic. Without these gloves there would be a serious health crisis due to infections and contaminations. There are many other plastic and polythene products used in medicine for the purpose of preventing contamination.
The number of economic activities involving the use of plastics and polythene cannot be quantified. Plastic is today used in almost every industry and sector of the economy. Plastic and polythene products are used in the automotive industry, IT, electronics, construction, food industries and so many other areas. Replacing the use of these products will not only serious affect the world economy it is very likely going to cause greater harm to our environment as the use of plastic would likely have to be replaced with natural products such as wood. There is also the issue of jobs that have been created directly and indirectly as a result of using plastic and polythene. Losing these jobs will cause a serious dent on the economy and will definitely lead to a financial crisis. It is also important to point out that plastic and polythene products are cheaper and as such better for business.
Opportunities for scientific advances
While most people only talk of the challenges attributable to polythene and plastic, there are a number of intellectuals who have seen this as an opportunity to deliver solutions. Scientists are working day and night to find ways of dealing with the problems that are attributed to plastics and polythene. Some of the notable scientific achievements of recent years include the 2008 discovery by a 16 year old Canadian, Daniel Burd who found that Pseudomonas fluorescens when combined with Sphingomonas can reduce polythene by up to 40% in as little as 3 months. There is also the 2010 release of a machine that produces oil from polythene by a Japanese researcher, Akinori Ito. There are many other ongoing plastic and polythene research projects that are expected to deliver significant progress in dealing with plastics and polythene.
As you can see, there are a number of good reasons not to universally condemn polythene and plastic. If we make an effort to responsibly use these products, the problems that we now face can be reduced to a large extent and we can continue enjoying the benefits of plastic and polythene without hurting the environment.