Professor Sean Smith, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Construction, will be a keynote speaker at the ASBP’s third annual conference: Plastics in Construction: Issues, Impacts and Alternatives, taking place in London on Thursday 28th February 2019.
Human health and planetary health are by very definition inter-related…we can’t have one without the other. Since the BBC’s Blue Planet II, the UK has woken up to the problem of plastic in the environment, with some commentators even suggesting that plastic is a greater threat to the planet than climate change. Anti-plastic has rapidly become a popular cause-celebre championed by all mainstream media. So, how should the built environment industry respond? Is the problem limited to single use packaging or are all plastic products a problem to which we must find alternatives?
Our conference will bring together expert thinkers and doers to focus on the thorny challenge of plastic. As usual for an ASBP event, we will take a holistic view by exploring the impacts of plastic products on the health of people, and the planet.
The impacts and implications of our use of plastic in construction are just beginning to be understood. These impacts span across the whole life cycle from extraction, manufacturing, to toxicity and fire e.g. hydrogen cyanide and continue through to end of life.
The construction industry is the second largest user of plastic, with 20% of plastic waste coming from the construction sector. It is estimated we produce globally 300MT of plastic annually with 50% of this being single use. Piping and conduit are the largest users of polymers in construction and consume 35% of production.
ASBP is not advocating a ‘plastic-free’ built environment. We are a material agnostic organisation who champions optimum outcomes for sustainability. However, we do advocate an approach that wherever possible the use of plastic products in construction should be confined to specialist high value, low volume application areas such as binders, seals, tapes, gaskets and services.