What Is Plastic?

Updated: Sep 16, 2019

Over the past 60 years plastic has virtually infiltrated every aspect of life. This is due to its convenience not just for manufactures but also consumers; as it is versatile, affordable, lightweight, easy to use, lacks maintenance and has a fast production rate. Replacing products such as wood and metals.

The word 'plastic' comes from the Greek word plastikos, which means able to be shaped or moulded.

Synthetic plastics are chemically manufactured from crude oil, coal and natural gas. Making the process of forming plastic destructive due to the way we extract these materials and the rate we are diminishing these materials. Also the process in which we make and mould plastic is highly damaging to the environment due to the toxic fumes it produces.

Manufacturers can change the physical structure of the plastic to benefit each application they want to use ti for, altering the effectiveness and creating plastics with many specific properties.

Plastics are divided into thermoplastics and thermoset plastics. Thermosetting polymers, also known as thermosets, solidify into a permanent shape once cooled down and cannot be returned to its original form. Whereas thermoplastics can be heated and remoulded over and over again, being more flexible and versatile, these plastics are recyclable.

Common Types Of Plastic

Polyethylene Terephthalate - PET or PETE

- Which form plastic bottle, medicine containers and most common consumer product containers

High-Density Polyethylene – HDPE

- Is a heavier container used for laundry detergent, bleaches, milk, shampoo, and motor oil

Polyvinyl Chloride – PVC

- Used for plastic pipes, shower curtains, medical tubing, and vinyl

Low-Density Polyethylene – LDPE

- A thin flexible plastic used for cling film, food bags, carrier bags and soft packing materials

Polypropylene – PP

- Plastic caps and some food containers

Polystyrene – PS

- Also known as Styrofoam, used in coffee cups, disposable cutlery, meat trays, packing peanuts, and insulation

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