Future sustainable technologies may depend on plastics
Plastics are frequently demonized – often for the waste and pollution they cause – but they have benefits too.
In the future many technologies central to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels will depend on plastics. Wind turbine blades require plastic composites and adhesives, while batteries rely on plastics in their housing and may even apply them as electrolytes and other components. Plastics are also widely used in home insulation, reducing energy usage, and they play critical roles in the construction sector as pipes and conduits, cladding, seals, adhesives and gaskets.
Other future technologies such as robotics, drones, electronics, healthcare and diagnostics will also rely on the development of better plastic materials.
Plastic’s image problem exists in the production stage too, since most plastics are made from petrochemicals, the extraction of which causes pollution and the degradation of land. But in future they could be produced from more sustainable sources – such as from waste plastics or biologically sourced raw materials.