Plastics and the Environment
Plastics are amazing materials that have, quite literally, changed our lives. Manufacturers can build almost any shape with plastic, with any thickness, hollow or solid, cut to any length. Plastics come in many different types—from common, low cost PVC to more exotic, advanced materials such as glow-in-the-dark KelBrite.
Plastics are used in nearly everything—for a number of solid reasons. They can shaped into just about any form. They can be manufactured in tandem with another type of plastic—a process called coextrusion—to give the finished product the properties of both types. They can be blended with other materials, such as wood. They can be manufactured into workable shapes inexpensively and at high volume. They are a consumer-safe and reliable material for many different uses.
But plastics are extremely durable—so durable in fact, that they take hundreds of thousands of years to degrade. In this way, one of their most positive qualities for consumers is also their most negative quality in relation to the environment. It is estimated that plastics account for around 25% of the waste in our landfills. For these reasons, plastics have been cast in a negative light recently with the advent of widespread sustainable business practices and greater awareness of our environmental impact. Yet, because plastics are so versatile and the technology is still evolving, there are environmentally-friendly materials and manufacturing processes that minimize the impact of plastic products.
The Principles of Green Chemistry
With innovation as one of our main focuses, we utilize modern technology to offer our customers sustainable designs as well as practice “Green Chemistry” in our manufacturing process.
12 Principles of Green Chemistry: (condensed) The full text is published on the US Environmental Protection Agency Web Site.
1. Prevent waste
2. Design safer chemicals and products
3. Design less hazardous chemical syntheses
4. Use renewable feedstocks
5. Use catalysts, not stoichiometric reagents
6. Avoid chemical derivatives
7. Maximize atom economy
8. Use safer solvents and reaction conditions
9. Increase energy efficiency
10. Design chemicals and products to degrade after use
11. Analyze in real time to prevent pollution
12. Minimize the potential for accidents
Originally published by Paul Anastas and John Warner in Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice (Oxford University Press: New York, 1998).
Our Commitment to Sustainability
How do we practice “Green Chemistry”?
Number one, we recycle. Keller strives to utilize as much recycled plastic as possible, thereby limiting waste and minimizing the impact of plastics on our landfills. Not only is this good for the environment, it’s good for our customers—recycled plastic is a more economical choice than products made from brand new “virgin” plastic. For a full list of the recycled materials we offer, click here.
Number two, we constantly refine our processes so that they use as little material and energy as possible. This includes several new capital equipment purchases and improvements, with more on the horizon. The manufacturing technology is always evolving to be more energy efficient and less wasteful with material, and we’re evolving too. Apart from new equipment, we utilize manufacturing processes such as coextrusion, which limits waste and maximizes material efficiency.
Number three, because innovation is our focus, we develop new plastics that are more environmentally friendly, including our biodegradable plastics. Our biodegradable plastics are derived from renewable raw materials like plant starch, cellulose, soy protein, and lactic acid; they are biodegradable because microorganisms consume them as a food source. We’re also a leader in developing and producing profiles made to rigorous health and safety standards—such as our NSF-approved and latex free profiles.
Keller Products is firmly committed to sustainability as a business practice and health and safety as a product standard.