How can construction reduce plastic consumption?
By Simon McKenzie07 August 2023
Over the last few years, Hollywood Monster has been committed to replacing the majority of its materials with viable eco-friendly alternatives. Simon McKenzie explains how the construction industry can work responsibly to decrease their own carbon footprint and that of their customers whilst reducing the amount of waste in the supply chain
Plastic pollution has emerged as one of the most pressing environmental challenges of our time. While significant progress has been made in reducing plastic waste across various sectors, the construction industry has witnessed an alarming increase in plastic consumption.
It is important to acknowledge that plastics in construction when permanently installed for building projects are often a positive thing. Many are highly durable and long lasting, so they’re unlikely to become marine litter or fill up landfills. However, the problem arises with the amount of plastic waste.
There are many reasons why plastic waste is a problem for the sector. However, some of the causes are often avoidable and we can reduce the amount with better research and decision-making around sustainable alternatives.
Common on-site products, such as hoardings, banners, signage, building wraps and totems, are often manufactured using harmful PVC materials. However, they are available in a range of sustainable, recyclable alternatives that would prevent these building materials from being discarded into landfill.
So, what are these alternatives, and how do they compare to tried and tested plastic materials?
Making a pledge to use sustainable materials wherever possible will not only reduce individual waste, but will also promote the use of alternative materials, that are both environmentally friendly and functional, to others in the sector.
And there are plenty of options available that offer the same level of print quality and durability as traditional PVC fabrics.
Water-based coated material, such as Kavalan, perform with excellence, maintaining the same level of quality and customer experience as traditional PVC banners.
Kavalan is PVC free and 100% clean, it has the same look, feel and quality as PVC and can also be welded. It also weighs 50% less than PVC, significantly reducing carbon emissions in transportation.
Embracing circular economy principles, where single-use plastics are reused, repurposed, or recycled, can reduce reliance on single-use plastics and minimise waste generation. A newly developed material like UFabrik is manufactured from plastic bottles, which are then cleaned, sorted, and shredded into flakes. These are then converted into pellets which are melted into extruded fibres, these fibres are then spun into yarn that can go on to make a fully recycled fabric. It is fully sustainable, reusable, and recyclable.
Know your options
Addressing plastic waste in the construction industry requires a collective effort and a shift in the way we approach building practices. Building professionals, policymakers, and manufacturers must recognise the environmental consequences of plastic usage and embrace innovative solutions that minimise or eliminate plastic throughout the construction process. One of the primary challenges lies in the lack of awareness of the options and quality of eco-friendly materials within the sector.
Although contractors are looking to reduce their carbon footprint and grow towards being more environmentally friendly, many are understandably hesitant to commit to trying new materials that they haven’t had experience with before.
However, with many construction companies proving that plastic-free materials are high quality, affordable and durable, it’s time the industry embraced new eco-friendly materials. This will prevent some of the 98,284 tonnes of plastic the industry produces from ending up in landfill. Not only are sustainable materials vigorously tested before becoming widely available, but their durability can be proven by many case studies.
The construction industry, including contractors, architects, suppliers, and clients, must join forces to drive innovation and implement sustainable practices. This necessitates fostering partnerships between industry stakeholders, sharing best practices, and collectively advocating for stricter regulations and incentives that discourage plastic usage.
Hollywood Monster is a leading digital wide-format print and signage company that provides innovative print solutions to some of the world’s biggest brands and events.