Subscribe to our newsletters & stay updated
This year the global supply chain for plastics snapped under the combined weight of pandemic pressures, weather impacts, and the following market events:
In construction and manufacturing sectors especially, the short supplies have provoked market chaos. Todd Fagley, the CEO of MedSource, which uses plastic in the PPE kits it sells, told Bloomberg: “Things that never happened are happening… It’s kind of like the Wild West out there…”
Stakeholders at every level — from engineers and producers, to regulators and end users — now face the following significant financial and performance challenges:
Challenges in the plastics market appear unlikely to resolve in the foreseeable future. The global economic recovery has just begun, fueled by pent-up consumer demand, progress in vaccination efforts, and government stimulus packages. So unless we find alternatives, the extension of what ISM calls a “perfect storm” of adverse events will severely impact a range of critical industries and applications.
One solution: Return to using proven alternatives for applications where other material options exist.
Consider piping systems, a key element of the infrastructure plans now making their way through U.S. Congress. Because materials like polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) are in short supply, engineers and construction professionals are rediscovering cast-iron, concrete, and copper pipes for drain, waste, vent, water supply, and stormwater applications. When these products are specified and installed, they inherently upgrade the safety, resiliency and sustainability of the systems as a whole. Here’s why:
The silver lining of recent disruptions to the plastics market is the opportunity for companies across many industries — from construction, to manufacturing, to packaging — to find solutions to long-standing safety, environmental, and resiliency challenges created by overuse of virgin plastic materials. Failing to do so now, when the weaknesses of current norms have been so clearly illustrated, will risk the future of not only businesses and products, but also the future of the people they seek to serve.
Paul Hagar is industry director of Safe Piping Matters
Sources include the following: