For most people, wood is a sustainable raw material, given its plant origin, which makes it easily degradable. But wood is not always the most sustainable solution from the environmental and economic standpoints. A wood pallet weighs around 30 kilos and its useful life is relatively short and determined by the amount of use. Meanwhile, a polypropylene pallet weighs only 3 kilos and has the same capacity and much longer useful life than a wood pallet. This means that a truck can carry a much higher number of plastic pallets, which provides tremendous savings in terms of fuel consumption and carbon monoxide emissions. This is one of the clearest examples of the lower costs, higher productivity and reduced environmental impacts provided by solutions based on plastics.
Recognized worldwide, green plastic, which is Braskem's polyethylene made from sugarcane ethanol that sequesters CO2 from the atmosphere during its production process, also made its debut in the construction industry this year. The product is being used by Tigre, Brazil's largest manufacturer of plastic tubes, connection and accessories, to make its new line of grates, which are known as the Tigre Ecological Grate. The resin has also been used since November 2011 in Afumex Green electrical cables manufactured by Prysmian.
Plastic is also being used to streamline and improve quality in basic sanitation works in Brazil. Maintenance holes (commonly known as sewers) made from polyethylene are being made using modern technology, which makes installation and maintenance tasks easier, while also being more economical and ecologically correct. One of the characteristics of manholes made from polyethylene is their durability, given their excellent resistance to pressure and impacts. This means they are less prone to fractures and ruptures that lead to leaks, which prevents contamination of the surrounding soil.
In the agricultural sector, one of the resources already widely used is agrofilms.} These films allow farmers to reduce the proliferation of disease and pests, control temperatures, better disseminate light and heat and control other weather variables. These plastic covers also protect the topsoil, helping to reduce applications of pesticides and fertilizers, inhibit the growth of weeds, prevent erosion and reduce the leaching of nutrients. All of these advantages translate into lower costs, higher yields and better quality products.
One of latest product launches in the Brazilian market is the silo bag, which solves the problem of the shortage of silos to store harvests. These are large bags made from polyethylene that can store up to 200 tons of grains, do not require any type of physical support structure and can be easily handled during the filling process.
Construction and agriculture industries adopt solutions based on plastic resins