There is no doubt that plastic injection molding has revolutionized the…
Plastics play a key role in society, impacting every aspect of our lives, from mundane and simple household items to unique and complex medical devices. The global plastics market is expected to see significant growth over the next decade. Despite criticism over environmental concerns, plastic is the third-largest manufacturing industry in the U.S.
Plastic plays a vital role in society in driving technological advancements, creating jobs, expanding opportunities, improving health and safety, increasing efficiency, reducing fuel consumption in industry and vehicles, and more. Plastics are often a key area of concern regarding waste management and sustainability (often spurred by half-truths), leading governments to ban or restrict some plastic products, further tarnishing the material. People often fail to consider the positive environmental impacts plastic products can have.
PLASTICS Industry Association provides these facts:
• A study from McKinsey & Co. on the climate impact of plastics found plastics help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10-90% in 13 of 14 non-plastic alternatives.
• More than 90% of plastic in the oceans comes from 10 river systems in Southeast Asia and Africa—not from the U.S.; therefore, plastic bans in the U.S. will have a negligible impact.
• Plastics only make up 12% of municipal solid waste.
The answer to making plastics more sustainable isn’t to ban plastics but to have global accountability, demand local governments expand and support recycling, and promote recycling and reuse to consumers and end users.
Promoting a Circular Economy Around Plastics
A circular economy reduces waste and keeps materials in circulation for as long as possible. Injection molding can play a part through waste reduction and other methods.
• Material Selection – A growing range of sustainable injection molding materials is available, such as bio-based plastics, recycled plastics, and composite plastics blended with natural fibers. Manufacturers can also choose materials that are more easily recycled.
• Design for Sustainability – Product designers can play a role in sustainability by designing injection molded plastic parts that are lightweight, durable, and easy to recycle or compost and that use less material. For example, designers can use hollow cores or ribs to reduce the amount of material used in a part, or they can design parts with snap-fit features to eliminate the need for adhesives. In addition, products can be designed to facilitate disassembly and repairs, allowing products to be used longer.
• Manufacturing Process Optimization – Injection molding manufacturers can reduce their environmental impact by optimizing manufacturing processes. For example, they can use energy-efficient injection molding machines, reduce scrap rates, and recycle scrap material. Injection molding is highly efficient in terms of material usage. The process allows for precise control over the amount of material used, minimizing waste. Excess plastic can often be recycled and reused in production, reducing the need for new raw materials.
• End-of-life Management – Manufacturers and consumers can work together to improve the end-of-life management of injection-molded plastic parts by increasing recycling rates or composting and significantly reducing the amount of plastic in landfills.
How Plastic Parts are Used to Promote Sustainability
While the process of designing and manufacturing parts can contribute to sustainability, there are benefits brought about by the parts themselves that are often left out of the conversation about plastic sustainability. Here are some specific examples of how injection-molded plastic parts are being used to promote sustainability:
• Lightweight Parts — Injection molded plastic parts are used to create lighter automotive and aviation components. This can help to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.
• Renewable Energy Components — Injection molded plastic parts are used in renewable energy components, such as solar panels and wind turbines. This can help to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.
• Sustainable Packaging — Injection molded plastic parts are used to create sustainable packaging solutions, such as reusable food containers, totes, or cases. This can help to reduce plastic waste as well as food waste. Plastic packaging also protects better than other types of packaging, resulting in fewer broken products going into landfills.
• Durable Products — Many injection molded products are designed to be durable and long-lasting. This reduces the need for frequent replacement and thus lowers the consumption of resources over time.
• Medical Products — The medical industry is increasingly focusing on sustainability, including using plastics in various applications, such as recyclable plastics for products like equipment housing and using plastic products that can be sterilized and reused.
Deluxe Plastics Commitment to Sustainability
We understand the importance our customers place on sustainability. At Deluxe, we are committed to supporting sustainability by using recycled materials, improving our processes to significantly reduce waste generation, and recycling scrap materials – all without ever compromising on the quality you expect.
In addition to supporting our customer’s efforts, we foster sustainable practices throughout our facility. We were recently recognized for our dedication to environmental sustainability! Our achievements include:
• Recycling over 3,000 lbs. of electronics,
• Reducing over 4,200 lbs. of greenhouse gas emissions
• Recycled over 1,000 lbs. of metals
• Diverted almost 90 lbs. of toxic metals
This recognition shows our commitment to manufacturing efficiently, effectively, and responsibly. If you’d like an injection molder that can help you meet your sustainability goals, contact us!