There has been a debate among backcountry skiers for awhile--Whether or not plastic bladed shovels are really effective as a reliable tool, particularly for avalanche rescue. I've often carried lexan bladed Lifelinks and more recently, the Snowclaw, which have proven adequate but not great in digging out a snow cave or making a shelter wall. But, hardpack and wet, heavy PNW snow puts up a huge fight with plastic blades. Avalanche debris can set up and consolidate into something like cement. The polycarbonate or lexan may not break but it sure can bend, and is nearly useless at cutting into anything hard.
This is a link to an editorial article on Telemarktips.com, in 2 parts