Plastics – Myths and Reality

Redwood Plastics is part of the IAPD, the International Associate of Plastics Distribution (www.iapd.org). This organization was formed to develop the awareness of plastics as a solution across a large variety of industries but also to improve the perception of plastics. Recently, the IAPD opened an office in Washington, DC to promote plastics and more importantly, an accurate perception of the beneficial role plastics can play in society. Too often the media reports on masses of plastic floating in the ocean, on landfills brimming with plastic drink bottles and a general sense that the world is being filled with non-biodegradable, non-recyclable products made of a cheap material prone to breakage – or even toxic. Sadly, this does not represent the benefits plastics play in both industry and everyday life. We wanted to address some common myths that seem to prevail – and provide a response based on the facts.

Myth #1: “Plastic is cheap”

Reality:

While there is some reason for the public to hold to this myth – common everyday objects such as disposable cutlery and toys are made of commodity plastics such as polystyrene or ABS that cost comparably little – the plastics Redwood Plastics fabricates and sells, the plastics valued in industry, are anything but cheap. In fact, one of the most common battles we fight are to prove that our industrial plastics are a better choice than traditional materials such as metal or wood, when plastics sometimes cost significantly more. Certain high-performance grades of plastic can reach hundreds of dollars per foot for rod or sheet stock.

Myth #2: “Plastic is not durable”

Reality:

Most industrial plastics are significantly stronger than metal. Many will hold up much better to impact, wear and abrasion better than metal. If metals were better – Redwood Plastics would not be in business. But switching metal applications over to longer-lasting, more efficient plastics is what we do.

Myth #3: “It’s just plastic”

Reality:

As a group of materials, plastics are very different from each other. Unfortunately we still receive requests for a variety of applications with different needs to be made out of “plastic”. When we inquire about the type needed, sometimes our customers wonder what we mean? Isn’t it all just the same?

Absolutely not! One example: PTFE is the third most slick solid known and is the high-performance plastic most often encountered by the public as it coats cookware. Customers new to plastic sometimes assume therefore that virgin “white” PTFE would make an excellent hopper liner for aggregate materials. However, PTFE can take very little load and is prone to deformation under load at room temperature. UHMW, a similar “white” plastic is conversely so strong that it tests as “no break” according to ASTM D256 – yet UHMW melts at 220f while PTFE can endure temperatures approaching 500f in constant operation. Could you see the possibility for failure in certain applications if any “white plastic” was used?

Myth #4: “Plastics just clog up landfills. They’re not recyclable”

Reality:

That’s not a plastic problem, that’s a people problem. Those clear plastic drink bottles are usually made of PET film. They are recyclable and the reason they may be filling up landfills is that people throw them in the trash. People also have discarded metal products regularly as well. But are metal products treated with the same destain for the environment? After all, heavy metals in a stream can be much more toxic to the biosphere than a plastic bottle in the ground. Furthermore, many plastics break down in a few hundred years – roughly the same rate as metal. It might also surprise you to learn that Redwood Plastics’ most popular material is our reprocessed UHMW polyethylene. This is a recycled material that offers excellent wear and impact properties with a very low-coefficient of friction. We sell more recycled UHMW than any other single product!

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We’ll address more myths later…

Please contact us for a quote or if you have questions:

E-MAIL: sales@redwoodplastics.com

CDN: 1 800 667 0999

USA: 1 866 733 2684