The construction industry is well known for their use of plastic. In fact, an estimated 50 tonnes of plastic packaging waste are being generated by the construction industry each year. To put that number into perspective, that’s 5 times the weight of the Eiffel tower – yes, 5 times the weight in plastic packaging waste alone.
Why is plastic so widely used in the construction industry?
The construction industry is the second largest consumer of plastic in the UK (after the packaging industry of course) and relies on plastic for the resilience, low cost, durability and water-resistance.
Unfortunately, what makes plastic so useful, is the reason we hear so many negative opinions about it. The resilience of plastic means it can take up to 1000 years to fully decompose, and while doing so, contaminates our soils and oceans.
The problem with plastic packaging
First of all, we cannot point our finger at the material itself. When plastic is used in a permanent form, it can be recycled effectively many times, proving to be very sustainable. However, single-use plastics and our poor recycling mentality is what’s causing the issue.
40% of plastic packaging used on construction sites end up in landfills, and a huge portion of this can often be reused. Many people aren’t aware of what can and can’t be recycled, reused or even replaced with alternative materials that are recyclable, and this is where we can make a difference.
It’s clear that the amount of plastic being dumped into our environment isn’t sustainable. So, what options do we have?
- Reduce – Reducing plastic packaging used to secure goods has the biggest impact on the environment. By partnering with a packaging expert, the shape and design of your package can be explored. This helps to reduce the amount of plastic used to secure your goods without hindering the protection. Reducing the amount of plastic being used not only helps to protect the environment but can help cut costs too!
- Recycle – Knowing what packaging to recycle and how can be tricky. If you’d like to take action against plastic pollution, contact your packaging supplier. They’ll be able to tell you what is recyclable and the best way to go about doing so. In short, work together with your suppliers to help protect our environment.
- Reuse – Reusing plastic packaging is easy and can save tonnes of unnecessary waste. Often, there are times plastic packaging can be reused many times before recycling or sent away as waste.
- Alternatives – With new emerging alternatives such as biodegradable foam chips, bio-based machine stretch wrap, paper void fill and lots more, plastic isn’t the only option. If you’d like to find out what plastic packaging you could swap out for eco-friendly alternatives, contact Swiftpak today.
The future of plastic packaging in Construction
Although plastic is responsible for polluting our earth, it doesn’t have to be our enemy, and is certainly not going anywhere soon. Due to its durability, resilience, water-resistance and cheapness, plastic will remain the most used packaging material within the industry. Ultimately, it’s down to us to use and recycle plastic responsibly.