We are often reminded of the negative effects of plastic, so you may be surprised to know that there are a good many plastic innovations for protecting human health and well-being.
Symphony Environmental has done a lot of work in this field, and has developed a suite of products under the brand name d2p (designed to protect).
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation claims that roughly one third of food produced for human consumption gets lost or wasted. Food waste is a global issue which makes protection and preservation of food a key priority. Plastic is much better than paper for this purpose – especially when wet.
Food Packaging needs to ensure not only that the food is protected from harmful pathogens, but that any migration of chemicals from food-contact materials into food is at levels that will not harm human health nor affect the nature and quality of the food.
Many types of fruit and vegetables continue to ripen after being picked, and this maturation can alter the colour and texture of the produce, shortening the shelf life.
Food packaging made with d2p Ethylene Adsorber, can sequester ethylene inside the package and delay the deterioration of the food. It also regulates moisture to slow down the drying out process – so helping to extend the shelf life and conserving the nutritional qualities, crispness and flavour of the product.
The d2p Oxygen Scavenger is also important in food packaging, as oxygen is another reason for food decaying inside packaging For food-growers, Symphony can provide mulching film which biodegrades after use (so does not need to be removed from the fields and disposed of). This can also be supplied with anti-insect and anti-microbial properties.
But it’s not just in food packaging that new technologies have had an impact. Plastic has also proved very useful in protecting people from insects, particularly from the diseases spread by insect vectors such as mosquitoes and flies.
Symphony’s Insecticidal plastic masterbatches can be incorporated into mosquito nets, negating the need for periodic soaking in strong chemicals. d2p ai (anti-insect) ensures that the nets are protected for the whole life of the product, making them cheaper to produce and easier to use.
d2p ai can be incorporated into plastic worktops and other surfaces, making them lethal to insects. It can also be added to agricultural films and bags, like banana bags to prevent insects from destroying crops, and has most recently been used to great effect to prevent insects puncturing agricultural irrigation pipes.
Increased resistance of bacteria to antibiotics has helped to drive a wide variety of antimicrobial plastic products used in healthcare settings. Anything from toothbrushes, to gloves, shoe covers, mattresses, curtains, face masks, aprons and hospital gowns are being made with antimicrobial plastic as well as medical equipment like syringes and cannulas.
Antimicrobial technology can now be included in drinking water pipes, helping to prevent the build-up of biofilm. The lifespan of plastic pipe is around 50 years, which means that biofilm has a lot of time to build up in water distribution pipes. This biofilm can include many human and animal pathogenic and toxic producing microorganism, which can affect human health and water quality.
Not just protecting people, but saving money, HDPE (High density polyethylene) is now used extensively in the boat building industry, and d2p can be incorporated into the plastic to prevent the growth of aquatic organisms, helping to preserve the integrity of the structure and reducing the cost of maintenance.
Plastic is the preferred material in many industries, not just because of its light weight, strength and flexibility, but the fact that it can also be imbued with other qualities. Used extensively in building and construction, transport and electronics, flame retardant plastics are a growing market for d2p fr (flame retardant) as they are designed to either prevent the item from catching fire, or slowing it down to give people a bit more time to escape. Not surprisingly the flame retardants plastic market is set to grow by 6.5% per annum until 2025.
Symphony have recently introduced two newcomers to their suite of protective technologies. The first is a vapour corrosion inhibitor (d2p vci), which protects surfaces against corrosion and oxidation of ferrous and non-ferrous metals, the other is a rodent repellent.
Rodents have a very strong instinct to chew and gnaw, they can wreak havoc in electrical systems if they chew the coatings and expose wires, which means any building (old or new) can be affected. Exposed wires can cause a fire or electrocution. Plastic coatings with d2p for electrical cables ensure that rodents are discouraged from doing this, and all electrical cables should now have this protection.
Symphony continue to develop and expand their range of protective technologies to help save food and money, but more importantly to save lives.