The durability of plastics, when applied to short-lived uses, and not disposed of or recycled appropriately, has had a negative impact on the environment. However, this material property can also have a positive environmental and functional impact. The robustness of certain plastics makes them the right materials for long-lived applications. For an object to be durable it must be able to withstand wear, pressure, or damage. There are various situations where these properties are vital.
The Durakerb (1) is a lightweight alternative to traditional stone or concrete kerbs. It can take the weight of traffic driving over it and yet offers a 40% reduction in carbon emissions in manufacture compared with precast concrete units. It offers a substantial reduction in breakages and spalling (chipping or splintering), minimising remedial and maintenance costs. Similarly, the Truckgrid Max paver (2) is designed to be used in heavy goods vehicle parking areas. It can be interspersed with gravel or grass, allowing rainwater to flow through without restriction, therefore preventing the ground from becoming compacted and reducing flood risk.
Flooring inside the home takes a lower level of pressure but still needs to withstand foot traffic. The backing of the carpet tile (3) is made of CQuestBio, a non-vinyl, non-bitumen material consisting of layers of bioplastic polymers made from natural oils and resins and a recycled limestone filler. The whole backing is reinforced with fibreglass for optimum stability and durability. The manufacturer, Interface, promises to take back customers’ used flooring products and create further value with them in the most sustainable way.
Children’s products (4-6), often made of polypropylene (PP) or melamine formaldehyde (MF), need to be robust so that they do not break and become a risk to the child. They will be even more sustainable if they are passed on to other families when the child grows out of them. Reusable products (7-10) are celebrated for their durability as they prevent the need for single-use alternatives.