Where would we be without plastic? Probably using a lot more metal. While most of us can't imagine a world without the convenience of plastic, it's actually a relatively new material. We've only been enjoying the regular, everyday use of plastic for a little over half a decade. Prior to the plastic boom, metal was used a lot more often. There are still plenty of areas where metal remains a crucial material but in the first half of the 1900s, metal containers would have been used for many of the same functions for which we rely on plastic containers today. Here's why we shouldn't take the convenience of a plastic container for granted.
The Versatile Features of Plastics
Which do you think is more rugged: plastic or metal? Chances are you guessed metal but plastic can be engineered to be more durable than the average metal. Plastic is a wildly diverse material that can host an array of features that make it more favorable for containers. In addition to durability, plastic containers are:
- typically easier to manufacture
- more resistant to corrosive materials
- more resistant to natural erosion
- conductive to heat
- lighter in weight (even when compared to most aluminum containers)
For these reasons, you can trust plastic containers to weather the elements as well if not much better than their metal counterparts. It's also a reason why you'll often see plastic replacing metal in technology. When was the last time plastic rusted up on you?
The Shape of Plastic
It's much easier to shape plastic than metal so you'll often find more creative designs for plastic containers than you would have seen for metal models. While this can contribute to more pleasing aesthetics, the benefit extends beyond function. Take auto parts for example. Injection molding techniques can be utilized to create complex auto parts en masse whereas attempting the same with metal would take more time, cost more money and result in a less effective product.
Affordability of Plastic Containers
Even in its heyday, a metal container would cost more than a plastic container. Metal is just a more precious material. But the cost effectiveness of plastic echoes beyond the limits of the material itself. The production of plastic containers runs more efficiently than the processes of a metal working facility. As mentioned above, this saves time which saves money. Since plastic is often lighter than metal, it also saves on shipping costs. Plastic containers are popularly used as packaging due to the cost effectiveness of such a lightweight material, among other trusted features.
There are more than a few reasons why plastic was so celebrated upon its introduction to mainstream use just a handful of decades ago. It's also why plastic containers and products in general are much more prevalent today with no indicator of going away anytime soon. Is it ideal for every application? Not by a long shot. But try getting through your day without using any plastic and you'll recognize how strongly it plays a role in making our lives easier.