The Uses of Plastics
Whether you are aware of it or not, plastics play an important part in your life. Plastics' versatility allow it to be used in everything from car parts to doll parts, from soft drink bottles to the refrigerators they are stored in. From the car you drive to work in to the television you watch when you get home, plastics help make your life easier and better. So how is it that plastics have become so widely used? How did plastics become the material of choice for so many varied applications?
The simple answer is that plastics are the material that can provide the things consumers want and need. Plastics have the unique capability to be manufactured to meet very specific functional needs for consumers. So maybe there's another question that's relevant: What do I want? Regardless of how you answer this question, plastics can probably satisfy your needs.
If a product is made of plastic, there's a reason. And chances are the reason has everything to do with helping you, the consumer, get what you want: Health. Safety. Performance. Value. Plastics help make these things possible.
Just consider the changes we've seen in the grocery store in recent years. Plastic wrap helps keep meat fresh while protecting it from the poking and prodding fingers of your fellow shoppers. Plastic bottles mean you can actually lift an economy-size bottle of juice. And should you accidentally drop that bottle, it's shatter-resistant. In each case, plastics help make your life easier, healthier and safer.
Grocery Cart Vs. Dent-Resistant Body Panel
Plastics also help you get maximum value from some of the big-ticket items you buy. Plastics help make portable phones and computers that really are portable. They help make major appliances - such as refrigerators or dishwashers - resist corrosion, last longer and operate more efficiently.
Modern packaging -- such as heat-sealed plastic pouches and wraps helps keep food fresh and free of contamination. That means the resources that went into producing the food aren't wasted. It's the same thing once you get the food home -- plastic wraps and resealable containers keep your leftovers protected. In fact, packaging experts have estimated that each pound of plastic packaging can reduce food waste by up to 1.7 pounds.
Plastics can also help you bring home more product with less packaging. For example, just 2 pounds of plastic can deliver 1,000 ounces -- roughly 8 gallons -- of a beverage such as juice, soda or water. You'd need 3 pounds of aluminum to bring home the same amount, 8 pounds of steel or 27 pounds of glass. Not only do plastic bags require less total energy to produce than paper bags, they conserve fuel in shipping. Plastics make packaging more efficient, which ultimately conserves resources.
The problem with plastic is that it is not biodegradable, which means that it will never break down completely. While some plastics can be recycled , they can only produce more plastics which does not solve the problem but does diminish the amount of plastic in the environment. Some plastic claims to be biodegradable, the question is will this plastic ever completely disappear, or just break down into smaller parts.
When plastic is burned it releases dioxins into the air, another very dangerous substance. Some plastics such as cling flim are actually dangerous in themselves as they contain vinyl chloride. This poisonous chemical can get into food, especially if the food is warm.
Plastic shopping bags are ubiquitous in Hong Kong. Sales clerks give them out freely and a colossal waste disposal and environmental problem has been created as a result. The numbers are staggering: 15 million plastic bags are thrown out every day, equivalent to 8 per cent of Hong Kong's municipal solid waste.
The government spends HK$70 million (US$9 million) a year disposing of the bags. But the real, unquantifiable cost is the environmental damage:
· wasted use of land: dumping all the waste plastic bags in landfills takes up large areas of land;
· air pollution: incinerating the bags pollutes the air and threatens health;
· land and water contamination: toxic substances in waste plastic bags may leach out and contaminate land and groundwater.
What is car emission:
Components of car emission:
1. Carbon monoxide
3. Ozone oxides (Nox)\
4. Carbon dioxide
5. Lead ( plommilo-tra-etyle is added to car fuel in 0.04-0.07 g/l. When the mixture burns, lead gets out with air in the form of small solid materials of a diameter less than one micron.
6. Acrobeine (results from diesel engines)
7. Sulfur oxides (SOx)
Main pollutants from car emissions are:
- Suspended solids
Motor vehicles generate three major pollutants: hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides (NOx), and carbon monoxide (CO). Hydrocarbons react with NOx in the presence of sunlight to form ground-level ozone (smog). NOx contribute to the formation of acid rain, although sulfur dioxide (SO2) is the primary contributor. Acid rain increases the level of pollutants in lakes, rivers, bays, and other waterways. CO, a colorless, odorless gas, can impair mental functions and visual perception and is deadly in high concentrations. Motor vehicles also emit large quantities of carbon dioxide (CO2), which has the potential to trap Earth's heat and contribute to global warming.
Motor vehicle emission control devices have dramatically reduced pollutant emissions per vehicle during the past 20 years. But the number of cars and trucks on the road, and the number of miles they are driven, have doubled. Vehicles are now driven more than a trillion miles each year in the United States. This growth in vehicle travel is offsetting the progress achieved through improved vehicle emission controls. Cars and trucks release millions of tons of pollutants into the air each year.
Maintaining your car means maintaining a healthy environment
Use your vehicle when in need Don't rev the engine; it wastes gas. Revving the engine can dump gas on the cylinder walls, which increases engine wear. Revving can also overheat the vehicle's catalytic converter, which makes it less effective and can damage it.
Your car emission affects your health, so keep it maintained
Switch off your car when it is idle.
Avoid lengthy idling. Idling wastes gas. Don't start your car until you're ready to go, and keep winter engine warm-ups brief. Turn off the engine if you won't be moving for an extended period of time — for example, if you're in stalled traffic or a long line at a drive-in window.
Getting People to Recycle
Recycling services are available to over 95% of citizens, yet many people still don't recycle. Are you one of them?
People who run recycling programs need to understand why some people jump on the band wagon, and why others don't.
People are motivated to recycle, if they understand the benefits which could be:
Extending the life of a landfill
Making a contribution towards a better environment
Reducing pollution and conserving non-renewable resources
Doing the 'right thing'
Helping local groups and businesses create jobs
Supporting the economy
People are motivated to recycle, if they know what to do, like:
How to prepare materials for collection
Having clear instructions about where the depots are
When materials are collected on their street
they feel the process is convenient.
Factors that Discourage People from recycling
People are discouraged from recycling when they are:
Misinformed, believing that waste is not a problem, conservation is not an issue, and/or energy and resources are abundant;
Indifferent, convinced that:
'Out of sight, out of mind', or that they generate an 'insignificant amount' of recyclable waste.
A lack storage space in the home for recyclables;
It is too time-consuming to prepare materials;
The depot is too far away or has inconvenient hours;
They have had a bad experience (eg. missed pick-ups);
The collection schedule is too complex or there are unusual pick-up locations (eg. front yard for recyclables vs back lane for trash).
What does recycling mean?
People saving their recyclables for the curb or depot
The materials being collected and prepared for market
Industries buying those materials back
Transporting shipments of materials to buyers
People buying new products that have been made from recycled materials!
Each arrow stands for the 3 main components of the recycling system:
The companies that make products and sell them to households and businesses.
People who buy products and separate their recyclable trash.
The recycling industry that collects, sorts and processes our recyclable materials, and gets them back to the manufacturers who will make new products from them.
Imagine each arrow supplying goods or materials to the next one. If one arrow
stops doing its job, waste will result. It's the continuous cycle that makes the
recycling system work.
Is recycling the only answer?
We all know the benefits of recycling, but remember the 3 R's? Well, recycling is the 3rd 'R' -- after reduce and reuse!
Keep on recycling, but do these things first:
Reduce the amount of waste you generate!
Think before you throw it away. Can it be repaired or used again by someone else?
Compost organic food and yard wastes.
Use both sides of the paper.
Watch out for packaging!
Don't buy products that are overpackaged.
Purchase refillable products or products in recyclable containers.
Don't buy single-serve or convenience packages.
Buy environmentally-friendly products!
Avoid disposable items such as diapers, paper napkins and cups.
Purchase durable and repairable goods.
Make your own non-toxic household cleaning products.
Become an advocate for the environment.
Keep looking for ways to minimize waste to reduce your impact on the environment.
What you can do in your school
Ensure that there are no leakages of water in your home .Git faulty taps repaired .
Don`t run the water while shaving , washing your hands or brushing your teeth. You would be wasting 2 to 3 gallons a minute!
Ask for water –saving toilets and shower heads to be installed in your home and office.
Take short showers, avoid long baths and turn off the tap while lathering.
Place a plastic bottle filled with water in your toilet tank if you can`t switch to a low flow toilet. Don`t use the toilet as a wastebasket ,and don`t flush it unnecessarily.
When washing dishes by hand , fill the sink or a basin with soapy water . Quickly rinse under a slow-moving stream from the top.
Use a container of water to wash vegetables and fruit and then reuse the water for watering the plants.
Operate automatic dishwashers and washing machines only when they are fully loaded or properly set to the water level for the size of load you are using.
Always water your plants late in the evening or early in the morning. it will prevent water loss due to heat during the day.
Ask whoever washes your car to use a bucket of water instead of a hose.
Conserve water because it is the right thing to do. Don`t waste water just because some one else is paying the bill.
When you shop
Air conditioning makes up the largest household energy consumption.
1-While the A\C is on , keep the doors closed and encourage your child not to keep opening and closing the door . Besides the fact , that it would reduce the cooling , it would also cut your energy cost.
2-Replace or clean dirty air filters. Air filters don't just keep the air fresh ,and those dust mites and allergies away, they save you money on your energy purchases by making it easier for the system to work and improve the system's performance . Ensure regular maintenance of you’re A/Cs.
3-While a new A/C is being installed for you , look out for energy ratings. The higher energy efficiency ratio , the less energy it will use to produce the same cooling effect .For example ,while buying a window A/C ,look out for EER of 8.0 to 12.0 to be considered efficient ,and the higher the number , the better.
4-Use reflected glass at home to keep cooler temperatures indoors.
&Lighting and cooking rank second in usage and consume approximately 33% of electricity in homes.
1-Replace incandescent bulbs and fixtures with compact fluorescent bulbs or standard fluorescent lamps.
2-In high-use areas such as the living room , kitchens , and exterior lighting , keep curtains open to let in daylight and switch off lights when not on use.
3-Regularly clean light shades to get clear and bright lighting.
4- In a large room, use a tube light instead of many small bulbs.
5-When not in use, switch off all electrical appliances.
6-Convection ovens are more energy-efficient because they look up to 30% faster than a regular oven.
7-Cook with the most efficient appliances possible .For example , try steaming your vegetables with a little water instead of boiling them in a large pot of water .Microwaves consume less energy compared to regular ovens.
8-Most of the energy your dishwater uses goes to heat the water. Run only full loads in your dishwasher and use a light or normal setting if dishes are not very dirty or greasy.
9-Refrain constantly opening and shutting the refrigerator door . Label items in the freezer clearly so you don`t spend a lot of time with the door open trying to identify mysterious packets inside.
&Bathroom water heaters are one of the most consumptive of all household uses.
1-Try to use solar water heaters instead of electrical ones, or convince your landlord to replace them.
2-Front loading washing machines use less water energy . Wash only when you have a full load of clothes and also while buying a washing machine look out for an energy saving logo.