How Much Plastic Will You Interact with Today?

28 Jun

There is no getting away from plastic. Even if you were to be marooned on a deserted island with nothing but the clothes on your back and your cell phone, you would still be interacting with plastic. Your phone case is plastic. So are the buttons that hold your shirt closed. Even the frames of your sunglasses are made from plastic.

It is amazing how frequently we interact with plastic on a daily basis. Plastic is so ubiquitous that most of us just take it for granted. It never occurs to us how often plastic is chosen as a manufacturing material. It is used in everything from the cars we drive to the furniture we sit on. It truly is amazing.

It Comes from Oil

The crazy thing is that so many people do not even know where the plastic comes from. It comes from oil. Once the oil is extracted from the ground, it needs to be processed in order to make the many products we derive from it. We process oil to produce gasoline for cars and heating oil for our homes.

Distillation is one of the processes refiners use to transform crude oil into usable products. Some of the byproducts of distillation are the building blocks of plastic. In essence, plastics manufacturing turns compounds that would otherwise be considered waste into usable materials.

Different plastics are made by combining the compounds with other materials. There are pretty much seven categories of plastics, which explain those numbers you see with the recycling symbol on plastic food containers. The numbering system was developed decades ago as a means of helping manufacturers know the type of plastic that they were dealing with at a glance.

Cheap and Easy to Make

Some are dismayed by the proliferation of plastic in modern society. They question how we ever got to where we are now. The simplest way to explain it is to look at manufacturing. Western consumers do not like paying more than is necessary for anything. We want access to cheap goods. Enter plastic as a manufacturing material.

Plastic is cheap and easy to make. Not only that but it can also be formed into just about any shape a manufacturer requires. That makes plastic a lot more versatile than metal, wood, and other materials. Manufacturers figured out long ago that they could not beat plastic for its overall value.

Furthermore, as long as oil prices remain fairly reasonable, it is often cheaper to manufacture with virgin plastic than recycled material. Still, there is a market for some types of recycled plastics. Just ask the good folks at Seraphim Plastics in Tennessee.

Clean Industrial Plastic Scrap

Seraphim is just one of many companies around the country that have figured out how to recycle industrial plastic scrap at a profit. They don’t deal in any residential recycling, and the industrial plastic they do buy has to be presorted and cleaned. Meeting those two conditions virtually guarantees that Seraphim can do what they do and make money at it.

A load of plastic buckets Seraphim recycles could easily end up as new plastic buckets consumers purchase at the DIY store. A load of dunnage trays could ultimately be recycled as regrind that is used to make new dunnage trays for the local supermarket.

Plastic is inseparable from modern society. We rely on it too much to get rid of it. In fact, most of us interact with plastic so much that we just take it for granted. But that’s why companies like Seraphim Plastics are in business. They help keep the plastic cycle going.