The British Government’s recent announcement to ban all plastic drinking straws by April 2020 promises to help reduce plastic pollution. But it runs the risk of making all plastics seem like the enemy.
In recent years plastic has been demonised. Everyday it seems, individuals and companies are lambasted in the press for their use of plastic products and for their failure to recycle properly.
There are two issues with this…
First, many plastics are very difficult to recycle (with recycling capabilities varying from region to region); and products that say are classified as biodegradable (like black plastics) cannot always be placed in an everyday recycle bin (Metro UK).
And second, the undeniable usefulness of plastic. Plastic is now an irreplaceable part of modern life: from the everyday (lunch containers) to the life-saving (medical equipment). It deserves its ‘magic material’ status and, as such, it hardly seems fair to blame everyone for using it.
The problems with plastic should instead be framed as follows: i) single-use plastics are bad and ii) current plastic is often made from an unsustainable form of petroleum and is hard to biodegrade. The solution then, lies in finding alternatives for both.
Last year, Olivia Sibony and Oliver Jones had their article, ‘Why we need to invest in the right plastics’, published in Raconteur Magazine. The piece called for an end to the demonisation of all plastics; for recognition that plastic is a marvellous resource without equal in its usefulness and diversity of application; and for entrepreneurs, investors and governments to come together to solve this critical problem.
Since then, many private and public institutions have tried to address these issues by creating entirely new materials. And one business, TeyshaTech, looks at how plastic can be altered to make the product more ‘tune-able’ than ever.
TeyshaTech plays on the inherently multifaceted nature of plastic. After years of research, their scientists have discovered a viable alternative to today’s petroleum-based polycarbonates.
TeyshaTech’s AggiePol© is a bioplastic derived from sustainable feed-stock and can be ‘tuned’ to fit the needs of the consumer. Their platform allows for complete customisation, using various natural-product monomers to create differing heat thresholds and mechanical uses amongst other controlling factors, including, most importantly, the speed of degradation.
They are confident that the material could replace the plastic used in both the automotive and medical industries, and possibly even single-use packaging.
Changing behaviours is no an easy task. Blanket demonisation of all plastic products is a useless and obstructive narrative. Companies like Teysha are proving that we can adapt and build viable alternatives. We need to get behind them and say ‘no’ to the wrong plastics and ‘yes’ to the right ones.