LONDON (Oct. 31, 2 p.m. ET) — With the world's population slated to top 7 billion today, the British Plastics Federation (BPF) has urged world governments to recognize the role plastic plays in helping human survival.
London-based BPF said the use of plastics was "key to supporting population growth and raising the hopes of deprived people.”
Writing to Vince Cable, the United Kingdom's secretary of state for Business, Innovation and Skills, the BPF's director-general Peter Davis said it was "crucial that policy makers the world over register this simple point – that plastics help people on this planet survive in increasingly testing circumstances."
“We can cope with rapid population increases because better education and innovation have led to improvements in health, medical provision and communications," Davis said.
"However climatic and environmental change could prompt mass migration, water and food shortages and increased poverty.”
Davis went on to document how plastics products are helping responses to environmental and social challenges:
Conservation and distribution of fresh water
Plastic tanks for rainwater harvesting and pipes for water distribution are light in weight, durable, hygienic, and easy to deploy in all locations – for instance replacing the UK's cracked Victorian water mains.
Plastics products transform marginal farmland, protects crops from wind and rain damage. They raise the soil temperature, enabling earlier sowing and transplanting. Plastic pipe drainage systems and irrigation channel linings reduce water loss.
Reducing food waste
Sealed and durable plastics packaging preserves food, is hygienic and minimizes the possibility of health hazards through bacterial or fungal attack.
Minimizing greenhouse gas emissions
Plastics components significantly reduce the weight of motor vehicles and aircraft, improving their fuel efficiency and reducing emissions. The new generation of jet passenger aircraft uses plastics composites to lighten their bodyweight.
Achieving good healthcare for all
The economies of scale achievable through the manufacture of plastics medical devices are making sophisticated treatment more affordable the world over, radically improving the recovery, wellbeing, personal mobility and independence of elderly, unwell or injured people.
Plastics (as used in PVC windows and expanded polystyrene insulation, for example) are low conductors of energy. In temperate and cold climates they keep heat in buildings and the cold out, and have the opposite benefits in hot countries.
Coping with emergencies and disasters
Whenever earthquakes or flood strike, plastics products are needed to help affected communities survive and return to normality, from tarpaulin sheets and tents to water tanks, rafts and crafts, rope and portable toilets.