It would be interesting to know if plastic’s original inventors had any foresight into how profoundly their invention would impact the world. In the more than hundred years since scientists learned how to manipulate molecules to create plastic polymers, the world has become increasingly dependent on plastic.
As fantastic a material as plastic is, it has become the flavor du jour among a group of people who need to create villains in seeming opposition sustainability, environmental friendliness, and the like. If some of them had their way, plastic would be banned today. What would the world look like then?
Below are just a few of the more visible examples of life without plastic, compliments of Tennessee-based Seraphim Plastics. Seraphim purchases industrial scrap plastic. They transform it into a recycled product and sell it on the open market.
No More Smartphones
Take away plastic and you have to take away smartphones at the same time. Not only are phone cases made of plastic, but many of the components inside are as well. Take the typical circuit board. It is made from plastic. We currently do not have another manufacturing material that would work as well for making high tech circuit boards.
If we could make them from another material, our smartphones would not be nearly as light and ergonomic as they are now. Imagine carrying around a clunky aluminum box that gets heavier as the day gets longer and doesn’t feel very comfortable in your hand.
Forget Electric Vehicles
As things currently stand, the world is waiting for the very first electric vehicle that beats a gas-powered car in range and overall performance. Without plastic, that car would never roll off the assembly line. Plastic is essential to developing electric vehicles that are light enough to extend battery range without sacrificing safety.
There is a reason why all the old classics got terrible gas mileage. They were heavy vehicles made mostly of metal. If you get rid of plastic, what would you turn to instead? Back to steel and aluminum – and the lousy gas mileage that comes with them?
Say Goodbye to Cheap Consumer Products
Smartphones and electric vehicles are two specific examples of products made with heavy doses of plastic. But across the board, we enjoy a complete range of cheap consumer products because plastic is so cheap. Look around.
In all likelihood, the carpet in your home has at least some plastic in it. So do all the appliances in your kitchen. Next, take a look in the basement or laundry room. You will find a healthy dose of plastic in your washing machine and dryer. The same is true in just about every room in your home.
We enjoy cheap consumer products because plastics are so cheap to work with. If we got rid of all plastic and returned to wood, metal, and other manufacturing materials, prices would go through the roof. Forget buying a new dishwasher for $500. You would spend twice that much, or more, on a dishwasher made entirely from metal.
The Most Revolutionary Material
Truth be told, plastic is the most revolutionary manufacturing material we have ever come up with. It is durable and lightweight. It can be manufactured relatively cheaply. Best of all, it can be molded to take any shape or form manufacturers desire. It is largely responsible for the consumer-driven lifestyle most of us lead.
If plastic were banned today, life would be instantly different. We would not have nearly as many things in our homes. Those things we were able to buy would be a lot more expensive.