The Adventures of FuturEnergia Hero: Scenario 2

SuperHero goes on holidays

The FuturEnergia Hero goes on holiday. He gets upset because he sees people just throwing products away once they finish with them! He can’t believe people would waste these valuable materials and decides to show them what can be done with their waste. Describe some of the things he does.

Ideas for students

  • Some products can be re-used many times. Which products do you think our Hero would persuade people to re-use?
  • Recycling in many cases saves a lot of energy and resources. Which products do you think our Hero would recycle, and what would he make from them? For example, did you know that empty plastic drinks bottles can be recycled into fleece jackets?
  • Plastics are made from oil, and plastic products which can’t be recycled (for example if they are extremely dirty, and would require too much energy to clean) can be burnt in special incinerators to generate energy

SuperHero goes on holidays: Supporting information

Plastics make our holidays fun. Consider it – think how much less convenient our holidays would be without the benefit of strong, lightweight plastic products. Think about a day on the beach, and the essential accessories you would take with you. They are all made out of plastics: bottled water, packaging for a picnic, a parasol, your swimsuit (or wetsuit), folding chairs, and bottles of sunscreen. Plastic objects can be carried almost effortlessly and withstand the effects of the water, sand and sun.

However because of this convenience people often don’t think about the valuable resources they have in their hands. Our Hero is right to be shocked by the way people throw things away once they’ve finished with them. Plastic is a precious material that should not be disposed of like that. Plastics are made out of oil, and we all know that oil is a precious and expensive resource.

So what should people do with plastic products once they’ve finished with them? The answer is: very many things.

Plastics strength and durability means that some products can be used over and over again, like strong plastic carrier bags.

We also all know that recycling saves energy and resources. However did you know that plastics are the champions of recycling methods, as unlike other materials they can be recycled in two different ways? Plastic can be recycled back into plastic, and used to make new products. However plastic can also be recycled back into chemicals, which can be used in many vital industrial processes. Why? Since plastics are made from chemicals derived from oil, they can be just as easily converted back again, saving resources and protecting the planet.

And because plastics are made from oil, they can be used instead of oil to generate energy. Many European countries burn household waste in special plants to generate heat and power, putting plastics back to work to reduce the demands on the world’s oil supplies! The power is used for many applications that need electricity, the heat is used to warm our houses, to warm the water in fish farms, and to warm greenhouses.

The lesson here is that plastics should never, ever just be thrown away. They are far too valuable to waste.

Of course, it’s not just the convenience of plastics that make our holidays fun. Should our Hero prefer to go to the mountains and ski, every bit of his equipment will be made out of plastic, from his ski-jacket to the skis themselves. Why? Plastics have tremendous insulating powers, while being one of the lightest materials that exist. Plastics are great materials to use to develop new technologies and products.

Our Hero is a fierce defender of the environment because he knows how an object is made from the beginning to the very end. That’s how he is aware of all the possibilities plastic gives for getting the most out of our everyday objects. Now it’s your turn to find more possibilities – what do you think our Hero will do?