The world widely regards plastic as a terrible material that’s polluting the land and seas. While there is a plastic crisis, another side to plastic doesn’t get spoken about enough. Plastic has multiple uses, it’s not just for the bottle you drink out of or the shopping bags you fill. They effectively use plastic in hospitals, engineering, manufacturing, and to put it simply, we can’t live without it just yet.
Plastic isn’t a necessary evil; it’s how individuals use and discard plastic that’s the problem – even though there are around 8 million tonnes of plastic recycled a year. We want to talk about the positives, so below, we will discuss when plastic is still necessary.
The world of healthcare represents one sector that is not ready to be without plastic. Previous articles discuss whether healthcare can be without plastic – and the truth is, no. Hospitals need to use plastic, especially single-use plastic. Single-use plastics facilitate infection prevention by removing the chance of cross-contamination. For example, if medical-grade single-use plastic is used and discarded right away, there is almost 0 chance of infection being passed from patient to patient or patient to health care staff.
A perfect example of medical-grade plastic that serves its purpose is in theatres, where surgeons utilise equipment such as the medical-grade plastic self-retaining retractor, rather than stainless steel, for example. They eliminate the need for equipment to be cleaned — cleaning is never a surefire way of obliterating infection — and allow surgeons to provide the best possible care outcome for their patients.
Plastic is also essential in other clinical settings. Most clinical settings have sharp bins that do what they say – you can put sharp objects like needles into them. Containers holding sharp objects need to be rigid, thick plastic that helps prevent the spread of infection and reduce the risk of injury to clinicians.
Outside of a hospital setting, plastic is just as necessary. It is the best option for preserving and protecting food and liquid. Although there have been many alternatives, nothing proves as good for food preservation as plastic. The additional preservation means there’s less waste, and products are more likely to sell. Products with a shorter shelf life are always the last to leave the shelf.
Plastic packaging also serves as protection. Most foods are packed and sent to various destinations, which demand robust packaging to keep the contents secure. Plastic is one of the best options, and it is actually better for the environment than glass or metal, believe it or not. Plastic can recycle to be used in other forms.
The fact that there is such a problem is a public fuelled one. People discard their rubbish on the floor rather than in a bin, so the plastic epidemic continues.
Plastic has far more uses than discussed today. It’s a versatile material that multiple industries aren’t ready to live without for many reasons. Although the countries around the world are doing more to promote the use of other materials, there hasn’t been a suitable replacement in sectors such as healthcare.