Materials for Our Future

Plastics are one of the most resource efficient and versatile materials available to society. Plastics make a significant contribution to the goals of sustainable development:

  • Social progress: plastics provide affordable products giving more people access to higher standards of living, healthcare and information. More than one billion people in the world lack access to safe water. Plastics can save and distribute water economically, reliably and safely.
  • Economic development: the plastics industry chain in Australia adds value to society. It directly employs more than 26,000 people and generates domestic sales in excess of nine billion dollars a year.
  • Environmental protection: plastics help save resources, fossil fuels and energy. Plastics products also save water and preserve food.
  • Using plastics products save energy: 100kg of plastic parts in cars reduce oil consumption by about 12 million tonnes each year in Europe reducing CO2 emissions by 30 million tonnes a year.
  • Plastics protect our food: trays, bags, films and seals extend shelf life and prevent tampering.
  • Renewable energies: rely on plastics (solar panels, wind turbines and batteries).
  • Plastics are too valuable to waste: : this includes end-of-life. After serving a useful purpose, plastics can either be recycled or used as an alternative fuel. Plastic waste has a calorific value at least equal to coal and with lower CO2 emissions.
  • Responsible use: The Australian plastics industry takes an active role in managing its products and how they interact with people and the environment. Operation Clean Sweep targets zero pellet loss.
  • Plastics make our lives safer: Medical equipment, airbags, seatbelts, baby seats, bike helmets and life jackets are just some examples of life-saving products made of plastic.

The building and construction sector is the second largest consumer of plastics (after packaging) in Australia. The sustainable use of plastics in this area will continue to develop due to the design flexibility, light weighting, durability and other environmental gains plastics offer, such as reductions in energy and water usage throughout the life of the home. Plastics continue to replace traditional materials in many types of applications, such as insulation, pipes, water tanks, siding, decking, decorative trim, bathroom fixtures and skylights.

For more information about the use of polymers in the construction industry, please visit the website of the Australian Modern Building Alliance, an initiative of Chemistry Australia.