What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Plastic?

Advantages of plastic include use in the building and construction industry, packaging, transportation, electronics and recycling. Disadvantages of plastic include durability, environmental harm, chemical risk and choking hazard.

Plastic is widely used in the building and construction industry because of its ability to resist corrosion, its natural elements and its lightness. Versatility, durability, flexibility, rigidity and lightness are characteristics that make plastic desirable for use in packaging. Plastic is used for electronics because of its ability to remain unchanged after it is heated. Recycling plastic reduces the amount dumped into landfills and seas.

Plastic production has steadily increased since the 1950s; the material can survive many centuries before nature has the ability to degrade it. However, because of this durability, continuous disposal of plastic on land and water can eventually cause environmental problems. The additives used in plastic can also cause irreversible harm to human metabolism. Phthalates and BPA are two of the chemicals used in plastic production that interfere with hormone levels, causing low testosterone in men and premature puberty in girls. Plastic is popularly used for small items such as toys and grocery or trash bags; both present a choking hazard. Governments have implemented rules for manufacturers to clearly label their plastic products to warn users of this potential risk.