Environmental Sustainability of Plastics in Construction
The increasing popularity of plastics in construction is due to many factors: their performance, durability, weathering resistance, low maintenance, cost-effectiveness, light weight and design flexibility. These qualities make them ideal products for construction and an essential component of the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Many different types of plastics exist with different performance levels and properties, meeting the exact needs of different applications, from corrosion resistance to thermal insulation.
How do plastics contribute to environmental sustainability in the construction sector?
An ideal construction product
Today, the buildings sector is both the largest user of energy (40%) and consequently the largest emitter of CO2 (36%) in the EU.
Constructing and renovating buildings with high energy efficiency in mind is a must. The biggest contributor to a building’s environmental impact is by far the consumption of fossil energy during the use phase.
Energy efficient buildings should last long, require low maintenance, and ensure the overall structural and thermal performance is maintained over time, securing a low energy demand and consequently low CO2 emissions.
This is exactly what plastic products tend to do. As such, they need very little energy or few resources to ensure they continue to perform as expected over their lifetime. They keep buildings dry and warm, ensuring comfortable living and working spaces. This is further complemented by their cost effectiveness over the building life-cycle.
These attributes make them ideal construction products. In fact, 20% of all plastic produced is used in construction – the second largest application for this material, higher than its use in vehicles or electronic equipment, for example.
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