As our governments, along with businesses and consumers, makes sustainability commitments and pledges to reduce emissions, it’s becoming clear that we cannot realize these goals without using plastics. Further, efforts to ban some plastics could be even more detrimental to the environment. Plastics are vital to Canada’s largest and most important industries, and a closer look shows just how necessary they are to helping Canada reach emissions reductions goals.
The aerospace and aviation industry is working to strengthen its sustainability efforts, whereby aircraft design and function have become central to meeting this goal. Plastic is lighter, more durable, and more flexible and can be used in even the most extreme environments, meaning that it can replace traditional, heavier materials for many applications. In fact, airplane cabin weight reduction by using lighter internal components made out of plastics, like seats, could reduce emissions by 1.2%. Plastic is as much as ten times lighter than alternatives providing ample opportunity to reduce weight and emissions further.
The automotive industry is also seeing the benefits of plastics. Plastics are increasing fuel efficiency, modernizing innovation and design, and increasing sustainability, safety and weather resistance. Like airplanes, plastic makes cars lighter resulting in greater fuel efficiency. Every 10% weight reduction in a vehicle can increase fuel economy by 8%, reducing emissions. Plastic is also more affordable to manufacture because it is easily shaped and molded, which has positive, cascading effects on prices for consumers.
Polymer’s lower density, compared to aluminum’s density, creates weight reductions that result in reduced emissions and higher fuel economy.
While the sustainability of transportation has benefitted greatly from the influx of plastic, food packaging has also seen many positive innovations. As countries battle food insecurity and food waste, plastic often emerges as an answer to combat this. Plastic protects the sanitary conditions of food to be transported and stored by protecting against contaminants and the elements, allowing for better food preservation and a longer shelf life for products.
As sustainability continues to be a goal for consumers, industry and the government alike, it is essential to realize the enormous benefits that plastics provide to help reduce emissions across industries. Plastics will continue to provide emissions reduction benefits as Canada works toward environmental goals.