No One Is to Blame for the Plastic Problem – Or We All Are

Seraphim plastics
Paradise beach in Thailand ruined by heavy plastic pollution.

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If you pay attention to things like recycling and sustainability, you are probably aware of the fact that the vast majority of those plastics we produce every year never get recycled. They end up in landfills, incinerators, and elsewhere. Unfortunately, our tendency is to look for someone to blame.

Here’s the thing: either no one is to blame for the plastic problem, or we all are. We can blame manufacturers for creating tons of plastic food containers but, if we are going to do that, we also have to blame ourselves for being unwilling to buy fresh ingredients and cook at home. Our obsession with food convenience has led directly to the use of so much plastic food packaging.

Food packages are but one example. There are countless others. The fact is that we all use plastic throughout our daily lives. Manufacturers have simply given us what we want at a price we can afford. We probably shouldn’t be so quick to blame them for so much plastic waste.

An Ideal Material

If you were to stop and count the total number of items in your home that contained at least some plastic, you probably wouldn’t be able to do so accurately. That is how pervasive plastic is. The question is, why?

It turns out that plastic is an ideal manufacturing material. First and foremost, it can be molded to take nearly any shape or form. You can do things with plastic you just cannot do with wood, metal, etc. But above and beyond design flexibility, plastic is ideal because it is durable, lightweight, and fairly inexpensive.

We consumers like inexpensive products. We like products that offer good value for the dollar. Plastic delivers on both fronts. Getting rid of plastic would mean higher prices on everything from cars to household appliances. Some products, like smartphones for example, probably wouldn’t be manufactured if we got rid of plastic.

We Need a Different Perspective

Our culture is currently in the midst of a serious debate over what to do about the plastic problem. One suggestion is to adopt a different perspective. Instead of looking at plastic as a problem in need of being solved, perhaps we should look at it as an opportunity to be more innovative about what we do with it.

Plastic itself is not a problem. It can’t be. Plastic is an inanimate object; it is a tool we use to manufacture things. The real problem with plastic is how we use and, once it reaches end-of-life, dispose of it. Adopting this perspective opens the door to finding better ways to use and reuse plastic.

Though you might not believe it, recycling plastic is actually quite effective. It just has to be done a certain way. Tennessee’s Seraphim Plastics offers proof. Seraphim plastics buys scrap plastic waste from commercial entities. They transform the waste into plastic regrind that is then sold to product manufacturers.

Finding a Way to Make It Work

Seraphim and its customers are not looking to blame someone for plastic waste. Where others see a problem, they see an opportunity for a viable business. They are not alone. Companies across the country recycle industrial plastic waste. They seize the opportunity to do what municipal recycling programs have failed at thus far.

The plastic problem is not a big deal looked at in a certain way. To those who want to continue seeing it as a problem, either no one is to blame, or we all share the blame equally. Trying to pin the blame on manufacturers doesn’t hold water.

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