Plastic is energy efficient and a key factor in helping to achieve sustainable development targets.
Instead of burning oil and gas, which augments the greenhouse effect and will eventually lead to the exhaustion of these resources, they could be transformed into plastics. At present, only 4% of the total production of crude oil and natural gas is used in this way. Compared with traditional materials, plastic has a much lower energy requirement. 'New' oil can also be made from scrap plastic via pyrolysis. Furthermore, plastic generates more energy per kilo than fuel oil when burnt, which makes it extremely economical and practical for waste incineration plants (there is, for instance, already a power station in Japan that runs perfectly well on plastic waste). Plastic can also be shredded and reused in injection moulding, which makes it relatively easy to recycle into 'new' products. Among other things, we supply (export) pallets, pallet boxes and dark-grey transport bins manufactured in this way to a large number of enthusiastic customers. Plastic represents in fact 'fuel set aside for future use' and only contains carbon and hydrogen.
By using plastic sensibly, you actually help prevent the accumulation of waste.
One of the properties of plastic that makes it so versatile is its durability. It does not rot or rust, but as litter it will admittedly cause problems until it finally disintegrates. It also means large amounts of bulk waste on dumpsites. However, plastic takes up less space than paper (in the form of, for example, packaging waste). The reasons for this are that plastic is stronger, which means it can be processed into thinner sheets, and that paper is to all intents and purposes non-biodegradable in the anaerobic conditions of a modern waste-disposal plant. Plastic is ideal in waste incineration: similarly to heating oil, it burns to produce CO2 and H2O without leaving any residue. Paper and wood produce large amounts of useless ash. Waste incineration with energy reclamation is mandatory throughout the European Union in situations in which recycling is not possible and because storage is only permitted for chemical waste of the 'difficult' kind.
Manufacturing plastic and plastic products is environment-friendly.
In the production process, oxygen is added to hot ethene or propane. The mixture is fed over a platinum catalyst, which binds together (or polymerises) the gas molecules to create plastic and release distilled water. No other substances (such as for example, chlorine used in the production of PVC) are involved and there are no emissions of harmful residues.
In the injection moulding of products like our waste separation modules and transport bins, plastic pellets are melted and pressed into a mould with a screw. The molten pellets coagulate in the mould to form the end product. Larger products are extracted from the moulds by robots, smaller products drop into receiving containers via conveyor belts. No harmful vapours or liquids are released. Plastic scraps are ground down and reinjected into moulds to make new products; the residual heat from the production process is used in central heating for warehouses and offices. Just compare that to all the chemicals, energy and waste water purification needed for recycling paper!
Because of modern production techniques, plastic has now become accepted as an environmentally friendly alternative to wood and other materials.
In 1960, when ENGELS started operations, plastic was regarded as a 'contaminated' product. Nowadays, we think it is quite normal to opt for plastic returnable soft-drink bottles instead of the heavy, breakable glass alternatives, plastic instead of hard-wood window and door frames, plastic instead of paper bags and, last but not least, plastic products for logistics, storage, waste collection and separation, such as transport bins, environment boxes, mini-containers and our waste separation modules.