It's a sad truth that plastic has become ubiquitous in our society. It's cheap, it's easy to use, and it can be used to create many different products. But what people don't realize is that there are many challenges to creating an alternative to plastic. There are many reasons why we're still using so much of this material, but one of them is simply because there aren't enough companies working on alternatives—and it isn't as easy as just throwing together any old thing together!
Most countries have little or no recycling infrastructure. This means that plastic waste is often not recycled, but instead ends up in landfills or the environment. The US, for example, has a poor track record when it comes to recycling--only 9 percent of plastic packaging was recycled in 2017 (compared with 29 percent in the EU).
In other places where there's better infrastructure for recycling and reducing waste, bans on single-use items like bags and straws have had an impact on consumer behavior. In Kenya, where a ban on plastic bags came into effect earlier this year after years of campaigning by environmental activists who argued that they were clogging up streets and polluting rivers and lakes; consumers have been switching over from single-use plastics because they want "cleaner" products.
Plastic is a useful material. It's cheap, easy to use and versatile; plastic can be molded into any shape or size you want. Plastic is used in many industries and has many uses around the home: for example it makes up about 60% of all packaging material (including bottles and tubs).
It's also found in furniture, wall coverings such as wallpaper and fabrics like carpeting or upholstery - even clothing!
There are many companies working on alternatives to plastic. However, they are not working fast enough and the solutions they propose do not solve the problem we have with plastic. In order to find a real solution to our plastic problem, we need to understand why these companies are not doing what they should be doing.
There are three main reasons why there isn't an alternative to plastic yet:
There are many challenges to creating an alternative to plastic, but it's possible to improve the situation. We need to make it easy for people to recycle and avoid plastic altogether.
Why is there no alternative to plastic yet?
That's a good question. There are a lot of reasons, but the biggest one is that making plastic isn't easy. It takes oil and other chemicals to make it--and those aren't renewable resources. The science behind plastic is difficult, which means it takes time and money to figure out how to make something else work in its place.
It's not just a matter of finding a suitable alternative material to make these things with, it's also figuring out how to do it sustainably. Many alternatives are not suitable for mass production because they require more energy or resources than plastic does. Others aren't sustainable because they're made from materials that can be difficult to source and recycle, or that harm the environment when they break down (like BPA). And some are unsafe for people or animals if swallowed--a problem when it comes time for recycling!
It all depends on how it's made, really. Plastic is made from oil, which we need to get out of the ground and process in order to turn into plastic. But there are different ways of doing this--some more environmentally friendly than others.
For example, some plastics are made using "cracking" processes that require high heat and pressure; these tend to be less environmentally friendly than other methods because they produce more greenhouse gases and toxic by-products during production (the EPA estimates that producing one pound of HDPE requires about 3 kg [6 lbs] of CO2). On the flip side, some companies use a process called "virgin resins" for making their products--which means they're starting with pure raw materials rather than recycled ones (like you would expect from recycling). These virgin resins require far less energy than recycled ones do during processing.
There are some alternatives that are being used right now, but they aren't fully ready yet. The problem isn't just a matter of finding a suitable alternative material to make these things with; it's also figuring out how to do it sustainably.
The problem with plastic is that it's so useful. It's cheap, durable and flexible. But these qualities make plastic very difficult to replace. Researchers have been trying to find an alternative since at least 1988, when they first coined the term "green chemistry." But even though we know there are better options out there--like paper or metal packaging--we don't yet have any materials that can do everything plastic does without causing harm in some way or another.
We need more time and research before we can fully replace plastic with another material:
Plastic is a useful material, but it comes with many costs. It's time for us to start looking at alternatives and thinking about how we can reduce our reliance on plastic.