The production of plastic has become a great invention, and the humanity utilizes plastic products in their daily life. Many industries benefit from plastic products that make human life more convenient. Unfortunately, many people do not realize the danger of plastic existence. Plastic bottles have long been one of the biggest environmental problems of global scale, but because it is very cheap to produce, no one is going to stop its production. If people take the right thing and build a business in the processing of plastic, it is possible to achieve and behave properly to save the environment. Today, recycling of plastic bottles is one of the most profitable segments of the market processing. Containers made of plastic are the most common types of packaging. They are found everywhere: in food and household products, cosmetics and medicine. Plastic bottles are widely used in the production of carbonated water, juices, and other beverages. The population has been searching effective ways for utilizing all these bottles and other plastic products after they have been put in the trash. The business of plastic utilization is not as profitable as one might think, and the industrial packaging market is a much cheaper edible counterpart. But the situation with the processing and recycling of plastic today is not so hopeless, as before. To protect the environment and make new businesses, UAE have developed environmentally friendly and financially profitable ways of recycling plastic.
History of Plastic
The first plastic material was obtained by the English metallurgist and inventor Alexander Parkes in 1855 who called his parkezin that later was recalled in celluloid (MacBride, 2011). Parkezin was first presented at a major international exhibition in London in 1862 (Zimring, 2009). The development of plastics began with the use of natural plastic materials (gum and shellac), then continue with the use of chemically modified natural materials (nitrocellulose, rubber, collagen, and Galal), and finally came to a completely synthetic molecules (bakelite, epoxy, polyvinyl chloride, polyethylene and others). Parkezin that is often called artificial ivory has become a trademark of the first artificial plastic, and it was made from cellulose treated with nitric acid and solvent. Many findings reveal that in 1866, Parks made a Parkesine Company to mass produce the material; however, in 1868 it bankrupted because of poor product quality as Parkes tried to reduce the cost of production (MacBride, 2011). Daniel Spill, who was the Parkes’ former employee, has manufactured Xylon and celluloid, produced by John Wesley Hyatt.
Production of plastic is based on the reaction of polymerization, polycondensation or polyaddition of low molecular weight starting materials extracted from coal, oil or natural gas, such as benzene, ethylene, phenol, acetylene and other monomers. The production of plastic is rather new compared to other materials, and its invention has encouraged scientists to make new inventions and technological advances. Before its invention, people were used utilizing natural polymers such as animal horns, amber, and tortoise shells that were very similar to plastic. For example, people used heated animal horns to replace the glass. Plastic was a perfect substitution of rubber, and it had the same properties. Moreover, it could be produced at a lower price. According to Zimring (2009), in 1907, Baekland invented a new formula for a new synthetic polymer that was produced from coal tar. A new substance was called “Bakelite”, and it was used in the production of high-tech devices such as telephones and cameras. In 1909, the inventor renamed this product into ‘plastic’ that has become in use till now (MacBride, 2011).
Production of Plastic
The term ‘plastics’ means organic materials, which are based on synthetic or natural high-molecular compounds (polymers). Extremely, it is based on synthetic polymers that include oxygen, hydrogen, chlorine, carbon, and nitrogenand sulfur. These materials under pressure and heat retain the ability to form a predetermined shape after cooling or curing. The molding process is accompanied by the transition of a plastically deformable (viscous) state to a glassy (solid) state. The paper is the most energy- and capital-intensive step in the whole process of production of plastic. The manufacture of plastics is based on the carbon atom that can be connected with other atoms, which in turn link to the nitrogen, oxygen, aforementioned hydrogen, sulfur, and chlorine. The long chain of connections leads to the production of polymer that is called a thermoplastic. About 92 of polymers are thermoplastics that are meltable (Zimring, 2009). Monomers are unit cells that are made by groups of atoms, and they are used to form plastics or monomers. In the production of polyethylene, for instance, a unit cell consists of two hydrogen atoms and one carbon atom.
The research asserts that plastic plants in UAE produce plastic products of any complexity at attractive prices (Niaounakis, 2013). The main focus of their manufacturing plants is the production of various shapes. The granular polymer melts in the injection molding and then under tremendous pressure injected into the mold. After cooling, the plastic is ready for use. Such a technique allows obtaining elements and details of the most complex shapes. To improve its manufacturing, technology is continuously improving and they are implemented in the production cycle. The production of plastics and plastic products is carried out using a great number of advanced injection molding machines, process control molding plastic products that are carried out by means of a computer systems (Zimring, 2009). The production also utilizes numerous units of additional equipment, such as hopper dryers, refrigerators, thermostats, robot manipulators, mixers, dispensers, and so on (MacBride, 2011). Producers also use extrusion blow molding machines, silk screen printing for printing in the manufacturing process of plastic products, packaging lines, machines and other heat-shrinkable.
The Uses of Plastic
Plastics are used for the production of an incredible number of products used in every day, such as plastic bottles, food containers, garbage bags and grocery bags, plastic disposable tableware, toys, diapers, bottles for shampoos and a variety of household liquids. This does not include all of the plastic that is in use for a long time, such as the plastic in the furniture, household appliances, computers and cars. Due to the fact that plastic is now a big part of the municipal solid waste (MSW), humanity faces the necessity of plastic processing that leads to a constant increase in plastic waste. For example, Americans consume the biggest amount of bottled water in the world (approximately 28 billion bottles a year) and 80 percent of them end up in the garbage (MacBride, 2011).
The use of plastic recycling saves energy and natural resources as well as 7.4 cubic meters of landfill space (Zimring, 2009). Currently, 80 percent of UAE citizens do sort their garbage before it is sent to the trash. State funds for municipal programs support enterprises engaged in processing recycled plastic. For example, in the USA, there are more than 1,800 enterprises that recycle used plastic into new commodities (Niaounakis, 2013). In addition, many supermarkets and grocery stores are engaged in processing plastic packaging.
However, the percentage of recycled plastics is still low, compared with the total weight of recycled plastics, and only a small amount of plastic is recycling. Thus, every day, plastic bottles are thrown into garbage, creating a mountain of rubbish on the planet. Piles of plastic for a long time haunt environmentalists and enterprising people are looking for ways to use the unwanted bottles. MacBride (2011) reported that a few years ago, the Serbian professor built a house of 14 000 empty plastic bottles. This idea came to him during a lecture about alternative building materials, and bottles helped raise students. Nigeria has begun the construction of the first house in Africa with an area of about 60 sq. km exclusively from plastic bottles filled with sand (Niaounakis, 2013). Bottles are held together with cement mortar. Builders say that the building of such a material is not afraid of earthquakes, fires and even bullets.
Medical Use of Plastic
Nowadays, polymeric materials – rubber, plastic, their preparation are widely used in medicine. Many studies suggest on the basis of the achievements of macromolecular chemistry, scientists make possible to obtain materials with predetermined properties that do not exist in nature (MacBride, 2011). Preparation of synthetic polymer products of the monomers is carried out using a polycondensation and polymerization. For example, natural rubber latex is prepared from (chyle Brazilian rubber tree), synthetic rubber is produced by polymerizing monomers with catalysts. Rubber is used in medicine used the manufacture of health products, such as hot-water bottles, bubbles, circles backer, and syringes. It is also used in the manufacture of tubular products, such as catheters, probes, tubes for blood transfusion, vacuum and hearing; gloves, fingertips, nipples and pacifiers for children and others (Niaounakis, 2013).
Many findings reveal that Polymers are used for the manufacture of parts of medical devices and instruments, blood transfusion systems, syringes, health products, lab equipment, packaging, catheters, bougies, drainage tubes, probes, packaging drugs, frames and lenses, and others (MacBride, 2011). The development of polymer materials in medicine is rather reasonable because of their prolonged contact with a living organism (artificial organs, tissue). Products from biocompatible polymers are used in surgery of internal organs and tissues, traumatology, ophthalmology, dentistry, and cardiovascular surgery. The healthcare industry widely uses industrial polymers: polyethylene, high and low density, polyamides, plastic compounds based on polyvinyl chloride, polypropylene, polystyrene, etc.
These polymers are used for the manufacture of parts of medical devices and instruments, blood transfusion systems, syringes, health products, lab equipment, packaging, catheters, bougies, drainage tubes, probes, packaging drugs, frames and lenses. Furthermore, products from biocompatible polymers are used in surgery of internal organs and tissues, traumatology, ophthalmology, dentistry, cardiovascular surgery. Such polymers are also the basis for medicinal films, ointments, matrices for accession to drugs with the aim of prolonging the action, for the shell of the microcapsules. The incorporation of plastic materials into modern medicine has led to the reduction in healthcare spending and infectious diseases. High tech polymers are successfully used in reducing the risk of infections in patients. More lives have been saved due to the use of plastic, such as sterile plastic packaging.
Plastic is used all over the place, and every day people throw a huge amount of products from it to the dump. They often cause great harm to nature, breaking into toxins that seep into the ground and groundwater. Fortunately, the plastic can be recycled; reducing its number is manufactured in factories and thrown into the garbage. For example, Polystyrene (PS) is used for manufacturing disposable utensils, boxes for CDs, toys, bottles of aspirin, etc. (Niaounakis, 2013). It is processed into an insulating material or packaging, boxes, and containers. Furthermore, Polypropylen that is used in the manufacturing of plastic straws to make cocktails, yoghurt tubs, bottles of syrup and ketchup bottles of medicines, etc. may be converted into rakes, brooms, battery trays. Low-density polyethylene (PELD or LDPE) is used to manufacture ketchup bottles, shopping bags, etc. From recycled plastic, it is possible to make garbage bags, envelopes, and building materials.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC or V) is used in the production of glass cleaners, detergents, shampoo, and transparent film for food, windows, pipes, and medical equipment that can be recycled for plastic building materials. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE) is used to make bottles for soft drinks and water, beer, vegetable oils, milk, etc. When these materials processed a second time, shopping bags, furniture, carpets, and new beverage containers are made from them.
Plastic bottles have long been a problem in big cities. Many areas, especially in the underdeveloped countries, are full of plastic cups and bottles. But not many of those who left this garbage in public places and rest zones think that plastic is one of the biggest environmental problems in the world. Recycling serves to resolve this problem and keep the environment cleaner and safer for human health. Today, many countries have proved that recycling of plastic bottles is one of the most profitable segments of the market processing. The Pacific Ocean is the greatest plastic garbage in the world that contains more than 100 million tons of garbage, which is six times more than the plankton in the ocean (MacBride, 2011). If the mankind does not stop to pollute the ocean water, the global catastrophe is inevitable. For this reason, more and more countries should be involved in recycling programs and projects that are widely used in the USA, the EU, and UAE.
Admittedly, plastic bottles are much cheaper than glass that encourages people just to throw them instead of putting in special collectors. However, wise people are building a business in the processing of plastic bottles, making it as their source of income, as well as giving people the opportunity to earn and help in maintaining the ecology of the planet. This business, as well as the production of toilet paper, is based on the use of recycled materials, which is very cheap.
This business is among the most easily opened. Normally, governments meet the users’ needs and help open this kind of enterprise. It is extremely necessary for the organization of recycling business because it does not trade in small goods, which can start before the opening. Niaounakis (2013) reported that from plastic bottles produce flex, which can be recycled for chemical fiber used to make the same plastic bottles, tape, film and much more. The very same bottle can be expanded more than 300 years.
The first thing to do recycle plastic bottles is to sort them by color, as each color is processed separately. All possible foreign objects such as rubber, paper, and other plastics are removed manually. The bottles are then compressed and fed to the processing line of the container. The output is a flex type flakes. The line itself is connecting by several tape units. The first unit separates the label and lid and then the crusher crushes plastic knives. Then this mass moves into the boiler, where hot water is removed all remaining elements after the previous unit. Next comes into effect washing polishing machine, then the machine rinses. Then plastic is cleaned and moved into a dryer. After drying, ready flex accumulates in the hopper.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Plastic
There are numerous advantages of plastic because it is light, strong, and cheap. It is widely used in building, electronics, transportation, and packaging. It can last forever because plastic does not biodegrade. People widely use plastic because of it can be re-used many times; it is not breakable, and odorless. A combination of acrylonitrile and styrene butadiene makes plastic units resistant and elastic. It has unique physical properties, and it is the hottest material to produce molded articles. Some types of plastic pursue high dimensional stability, high resistance to acids and inorganic salts, and resistance to grease, lubricating oil, gasoline and hydrocarbons (MacBride, 2011). Plastic displays a perfect response to temperature changes and serves as an excellent resistance to many chemicals. Despite the hard conditions of heat, cold, sunlight, and humidity, plastic keeps its original appearance and color. Plastic is shatter-resistant, earthquake safe, and burglar-resistant. The wide use of plastic in medicine improves people’s life. For example, many consumers appreciate contact lenses that substitute eyeglasses.
The most threatening disadvantage of plastic is its contribution to pollution. When it is melted, gas pollutes the environment, affecting people’s health and weakens the ozone layer (Zimring, 2009). It is a well-known fact that most forms of plastic are produced from oil that is gradually decreasing in the world. Plastic has some disadvantages that limit its functionality and make it impossible to use it in some areas. For example, many types of plastics have a low weather resistance. Under ultraviolet light, it loses its appearance. If the plastic product is used outdoors in the sun, it can be deformed, or it can change its color. Plastic is not too strong, and it should not be pressed too hard to avoid cracking.
UAE Plastic Manufacturing Companies
The United Arab Emirates are one the major suppliers of chemicals used for the production of plastic in the world (Sillitoe, 2014). According to the experts of the Board of Directors of the organization “Arabplast”, the production of plastic products such as food containers, pipes and cable is growing every year, and by 2020, it is supposed to increase for eight percent (IBP, Inc , 2014). The range of petrochemical products produced in the Middle East experienced unprecedented growth. The strategy for the development of petrochemical sector of Abu Dhabi has changed its direction from the basic products to end products. Abu Dhabi is positioning itself as one of the world’s largest manufacturers of petrochemical products. Emirate gladly invites strategic foreign and local investors to join the development of the industry.
The research asserts that 50 percent of all plastic manufacturing projects target plastic packaging (Sillitoe, 2014).UAE zeal to build one of the most powerful infrastructures that would create a high demand for plastic products, from pipes to cables and wires. Plastic is useful in many areas of production, such as automobile industry uses plastic because it makes the car easier. The development of economic sectors not related to oil production, as well as the construction boom led to rapid growth in demand for plastics in Dubai, which entails an increase in production and a gradual reduction in the import of these materials. Currently, the market of plastic products in Dubai is one of the biggest in the region.
Nowadays, there are 119 companies in Dubai that produce plastic and rubber products; and by the end of the first quarter of 2015, paid-up capital of these companies amounted to $ 360 million on revenue of $ 360 million (IBP, Inc, 2014). Plastics industry in Dubai is diversified, and it produces various products, including plastic and seamless tubes, valves for plumbing, electrical devices, etc. The United Arab Emirates ranked amongst the Gulf countries the second largest producer of plastics after Saudi Arabia (IBP, Inc, 2014). The most widespread locally products are plastic tubes and articles for the house. The United Arab Emirates have invested in the industry of about 139.5 million dollars, which allowed increasing production and reducing dependence on imports (Sillitoe, 2014).
The production of plastic is the greatest invention that has both advantages and disadvantages. Plastic products are widely used in different industries and spheres of life due to its useful properties. They are light, cheap, and strong, and they can last forever. People widely use and re-use plastic products without the awareness that plastic materials pollute the environment. Plastic bottles have long been one of the biggest environmental problems of global scale. If people take the right thing and build a business in the processing of plastic, it is possible to achieve and behave properly to save the environment. Today, recycling of plastic bottles is one of the most profitable segments of the market processing. The community should realize that plastic products, especially bottles, threaten the environment, polluting mainly the Pacific Ocean that contains much more plastic than its flora and fauna. Therefore, plastic recycling should be implementing in all countries in order to make plastic production and use safer.