Plastics Top 10
Plastic pipes are cited as one of the many ways in which the material has contributed to improved standards of modern living
In a new survey, published by the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE), chemical engineers have voted plastics as the sixth most important chemically engineered inventions and solutions of the modern era.
From a shortlist of over 40 inventions, chemical engineers voted for their most important chemically engineered solutions over the past century, with plastics’ “relatively low cost, ease of manufacture, versatility and imperviousness to water,” being cited as major benefits in their use for an “enormous and expanding” range of products.
"It is difficult to conceive of modern living without plastics. Versatile, lightweight and tough it is no surprise that worldwide demand for plastic has risen from 1.7 million tonnes in 1950 to 280 million tonnes in 2011. That trend is expected to continue,” commented IChemE MediaEnvoy, Thaddeus Anim-Somuah, a Process Engineer based in The Netherlands.
"Innovations in plastics have also supported improvements for many other products and industries. In particular, the construction, automobile and textile industries have been able to develop new products,” he continued.
"Health has benefited - the simple task of storing and supplying clean water in plastic bottles or down lightweight pipes has saved many lives.
"The food industry has been transformed by plastic packaging. Manufacturers, retailers and consumers have benefited from extended shelf lives. Even the environment has benefited from plastics by helping to reduce the amount of materials needed for packaging and the energy required to transport goods.”
The full list of solutions that made the top 10 in the survey were: 1) Drinking or potable water; 2) Petrol or gasoline (and other fuels including diesel); 3) Antibiotics; 4) Electricity generation (from fossil fuels); 5) Vaccines; 6) Plastics 7) Fertilizer; 8) Sanitation; 9) Electricity generation (from non-fossil fuels); 10) Dosed medications (such as tablets, pills and capsules)
"Plastics fully deserve to be in the top ten of chemically engineered products and they will continue to evolve and change especially in relation to sustainability,” Anim-Somuah concluded.