Geschichte und Herstellung von Plastik

Wann wart ihr das letzte Mal einen Meter von Plastik entfernt? Es ist in unserer Gesellschaft überall zu finden. Doch was genau ist eigentlich Plastik, wann wurde es erfunden und wie wird es hergestellt?

Zuallererst sollte man wissen, was genau Plastik ist. Plastik ist der umgangssprachliche Begriff für Kunststoff. Die Definition ist sehr weit gefasst, denn ein Kunststoff ist  ein entweder vollsynthetischer oder durch Umwandlung von Naturprodukten hergestellter Werkstoff. Er kommt also nicht natürlich vor, sondern muss erst künstlich produziert werden.

Kunststoffe gibt es schon seit 1862, als Alexander Parkes einen Kunststoff aus Zellulose herstellte. Danach folgten  weitere auf Naturprodukten basierende Stoffe, die aber alle eher Nischenprodukte waren. So gab es beispielsweise einen billigen Seidenersatz (Viskose). Doch dann wurde 1912 Polyvinylchlorid (PVC) erfunden, welches aus Erdöl hergestellt wird. Nachdem man feststellte, dass das Abfallprodukt Chlor verwendet werden konnte, um PVC zu produzieren, begann der Plastikboom. Über die Jahre entfernte man sich immer weiter von Naturkunststoffen und vollsynthetische Kunststoffe wurden immer beliebter.

Man verwendete immer mehr Erdöl, um Kunststoffe zu produzieren.  Heutzutage werden acht Prozent des weltweit geförderten Erdöls für die Plastikproduktion genutzt. Erdöl wird umweltschädlich gewonnen, ein Beispiel dafür ist Fracking, das in großen Teilen der USA betrieben wird. Dabei werden Chemikalien in den Boden geleitet, um das Erdöl und Erdgas aus dem Gestein zu lösen. Außerdem ist Erdöl ein fossiler Energieträger, der nicht nachwächst und bald verbraucht sein wird. Die Herstellung von Erdöl ist auch sehr energieaufwendig und setzt unterschiedlichste Treibhausgase in die Atmosphäre frei.  Dies ist schlecht für das Klima. Das 1,5°C Ziel versucht den Anstieg des weltweiten  Klimas auf 1,5°C zu begrenzen, um schlimmere Folgen zu verhindern. Um das zu erreichen, gibt es eine absolute maximal Menge an Kohlenstoff, die von der Menschheit ausgestoßen werden darf. Die auf Erdöl basierende Kunststoffproduktion könnte somit 10 bis 13 Prozent des gesamten Kohlenstoffbudgets des 1,5 °C Zieles verbrauchen, sollte bis 2050 mit dem gleichen Wachstum weiter produziert werden.  

Jetzt stellt sich nur noch die Frage, wie viel Kunststoff wird überhaupt produziert? Zwischen 1950 und 2015 sind 8,3 Mio. Tonnen hergestellt worden. Das entspricht über einer Tonne pro Person auf unserem Planeten.

Die Herstellung von Kunststoff ist aus ökologischer Sicht als problematisch zu bewerten. Es werden keine ökologischen  Ausgangsstoffe verwendet, diese werden mithilfe von viel Energie weiterverarbeitet und dabei werden auch noch viele Treibhausgase freigesetzt.

Quellen:

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rstb.2009.0054

https://www.boell.de/sites/default/files/2020-02/Plastikatlas%202019%204.%20Auflage.pdf

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