Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 8

opinion
Sustainable design:
Can we ever live in
harmony with plastics?
Iris Alting
P
lastics have served
a valuable purpose
since their inception.
The material has
revolutionised food preservation,
promoted hygiene and
ensured product safety and integrity,
among other things. It
is cheap to make and, with its
lightweight composition, easy
to transport. Plastics were precisely
engineered for versatility
and durability. Yet these material
traits which have formed
such an integral backdrop to
the convenience we enjoy in our
everyday lives have made plastic,
quite literally, indispensable.
Our reliance, immense production
and use of plastic have
brought us to a critical juncture
where the historical management
and treatment of plastic
waste are pushing us towards
a tipping point. To understand
the sheer scale of the problem,
consider this: only 9% of all
plastic waste has been recaptured
and recycled.
Material innovations in
No longer the wonder material it once was, plastic is today
perceived as a public enemy - an environmental villain
that has left footprints in the deepest of oceans to the
highest of mountains. It has contaminated our food, harmed
biodiversity and disrupted delicate ecosystems. Is its
elimination the answer? By Ross Lakhdari and Iris Alting
8
January/February 2024
bioplastics - from mycelium
(mushroom-based) polymers
to crustacean-derived plastics
- have been explored as possible
alternatives to the virgin single-use
variants that wrap our
chocolates, line our takeaway
coffee cups or provide a window
to our shop-bought pack
of sandwiches. None have, as
yet, become a widely accepted,
long-term replacement. The
cost of production and the energy
required to produce the
materials at scale are often too
hefty or present further issues
when considering the end-oflife
recovery of waste.
The truth is that it has been
difficult to develop a material,
economically and at scale, with
the same durability and versatility
of the plastic in use today.
Yet plastic remains a product of
outdated systems that consign
it to failure right from the onset

Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024

Contents
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - Cover1
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - Cover2
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - Contents
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 4
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 5
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 6
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 7
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 8
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 9
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 10
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 11
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Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 30
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Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 33
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - 34
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - Cover3
Sustainable Plastics - January/February 2024 - Cover4
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