When leaders in Washington, D.C., turned their attention to rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, while also combatting climate change, the response from America’s plastic makers was simple: “We’re all in.”
Along with the rest of America’s critical manufacturing capacity, plastic makers will play a key role in rebuilding our nation’s ability to move people, energy, goods and water while simultaneously driving down greenhouse gas emissions. Our nation’s aging infrastructure requires a serious upgrade to meet today’s needs and our environmental commitments to future generations.
To meet these challenges, we’re going to need plastic. From modernizing our ability to deliver water to combatting climate change, America’s plastic makers will contribute needed materials, technologies and R&D… while also working to end plastic waste.
Plastic pipes often can retrofit crumbling and rusting pipes without digging massive trenches. They also save energy by significantly reducing drag of moving water through old fashioned pipes and typically are more economical to install and maintain.
Low-carbon wind energy requires a growing supply of massive yet lightweight wind turbine blades, most of which are made from lightweight plastic composites, such as carbon fiber-reinforced plastic.
Solar panels rely on a wide variety of plastic parts to deliver power cost effectively: electrical insulators, pipes, valves, fittings, films/sheets that help protect glass and silicon panels and more. (And future plastic solar cells could deliver even more affordable, flexible and lightweight panels.)
Durable, lightweight plastic components help decrease the weight of our cars, which significantly improves fuel efficiency and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. And a nationwide infrastructure for electric and hydrogen vehicles will require even more plastic “lightweighting” to increase the range of low-carbon vehicles.
Homes and Buildings
Modern construction practices rely heavily on energy-saving plastic building materials to drive down energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Plastic materials such as foam insulation and house wrap play a vital role in improving energy efficiency and meeting carbon reduction goals.
Innovative uses of plastic (including recycled plastic) also are envisioned to rebuild our nation’s roads, bridges, and railroad infrastructure.
While contributing to a more resilient and greener infrastructure, plastic makers also continue to invest in advanced plastic recycling technologies that will enable our nation to reuse plastic resources in U.S. manufacturing, rather than burying them in landfills. Modernizing our recycling infrastructure is critical to building a more circular economy, driving down greenhouse gas emissions and ending plastic waste.
As our nation sets about rebuilding our infrastructure and restoring our resilience, plastic will play an outsized role. America’s plastic makers are all in.
Continue to visit America’s Plastic Makers: Making Sustainable ChangeSM to learn more about how plastic makers and manufacturing will be critical to building back better while helping our nation tackle big issues such as climate change.