Case Study: Polymers

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  • Case Study: Polymers


    "Sustainable development" is a relative term: it is development that moves us from the present state towards a more nearly sustainable state. Biopolymers are promoted as sustainable substitutes for oil-based plastics. If they are to succeed they must really be more sustainable than oil, must perform as well as the materials they displace, be affordable, and be producible on a scale that compares with that of commodity plastics. "Bio-based polymers will increase in capacity to 12 million tons/year by 2020. That will equal 3% of total polymer production." That is a statement of an anticipated sustainable development. What is the background? Who are the interested parties? How do the carbon footprint and price of bio-polymers compare with those made from oil? Can we form a balanced opinion about the claim?

    Are books with plastic pages more sustainable than those printed on paper? The authors of the book "Cradle to Cradle" chose to publish the first edition on plastic, not paper, to make a point about sustainable design in a dramatic way. It certainly captures attention. But does a cold analysis support the idea that replacing paper by plastic for books is a sustainable development? This pair of case studies uses the 5-step method described in the Tool Kit for exploring proposals for sustainable development.

    Here you can find more information on the 5-step methodology for sustainability assessment of technological proposals (Ashby et al., 2015) and the package with templates and handouts for group work: Teaching Package: Active-learning ToolKit - Sustainable Development

    Biopolymers, Cost, Design, Legislation, Materials, Plastics, Polymers, Processes, Project, Selection, Sustainability, 2017

    Author/s | Institution: Mike Ashby | Granta Design | 2017
    Format | Language | Year : ZIP | English | 2017
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