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Plastics are a wide range of
syntheticA synthetic is an artificial material produced by organic chemistry, organic chemical synthesis. Synthetic may also refer to: In the sense of both "combination" and "artificial" * Synthetic chemical or synthetic compress, produced by the process ...
or semi-synthetic materials that use
polymer A polymer (; Greek ''wikt:poly-, poly-'', "many" + ''wikt:-mer, -mer'', "part") is a Chemical substance, substance or material consisting of very large molecules, or macromolecules, composed of many Repeat unit, repeating subunits. Due to their ...

polymer
s as a main ingredient. Their
plasticity Plasticity may refer to: Science * Plasticity (physics), in engineering and physics, the propensity of a solid material to undergo permanent deformation under load * Neuroplasticity, in neuroscience, how entire brain structures, and the brain its ...
makes it possible for plastics to be
moulded
moulded
,
extruded allow bars to be joined with special connectors. Extrusion is a process used to create objects of a fixed cross section (geometry), cross-sectional profile. A material is pushed through a die of the desired cross-section. The two main advantag ...

extruded
or
pressed
pressed
into solid objects of various shapes. This adaptability, plus a wide range of other properties, such as being lightweight, durable, flexible, and inexpensive to produce, has led to its widespread use. Plastics typically are made through human industrial systems. Most modern plastics are derived from fossil fuel-based chemicals like
natural gas Natural gas (also called fossil gas; sometimes just gas) is a naturally occurring hydrocarbon gas mixture consisting of methane and commonly including varying amounts of other higher alkanes, and sometimes a small percentage of carbon dioxide ...

natural gas
or
petroleum Petroleum (), also known as crude oil and oil, is a #Latent heat of vaporization, naturally occurring, yellowish-black liquid found in geological formations beneath the Earth, Earth's surface. It is commonly refined into various types of fuels. ...

petroleum
; however, recent industrial methods use variants made from renewable materials, such as
corn Maize ( ; ''Zea mays'' subsp. ''mays'', from es, maíz after tnq, mahiz), also known as corn (North American North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It can ...
or
cotton Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective case, around the seeds of the cotton plants of the genus '' Gossypium'' in the mallow family Malvaceae. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. Under natural condition ...

cotton
derivatives. In developed economies, about a third of plastic is used in packaging and roughly the same in buildings in applications such as
piping Within industry, piping is a system of pipes used to convey fluid In physics, a fluid is a substance that continually Deformation (mechanics), deforms (flows) under an applied shear stress, or external force. Fluids are a Phase (matter), ph ...

piping
,
plumbing Plumbing is any system that conveys fluids for a wide range of applications. Plumbing uses pipes, valves, plumbing fixtures, tanks, and other apparatuses to convey fluids. Heating and cooling (HVAC), waste removal, and potable water delive ...

plumbing
or
vinyl siding thumb Vinyl siding is plastic exterior siding (construction), siding for houses and small apartment buildings, used for decoration and weatherproofing, imitating wood clapboard, board and batten or shakes, and used instead of other materials such as ...
. Other uses include automobiles (up to 20% plastic ), furniture, and toys. In the developing world, the applications of plastic may differ; 42% of India's consumption is used in packaging. In the medical field, polymer implants and other medical devices are derived at least partially from plastic. Worldwide, about 50 kg of plastic is produced annually per person, with production doubling every ten years. The world's first fully synthetic plastic was
Bakelite Bakelite ( ; sometimes spelled Baekelite) or polyoxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydride was the first plastic Plastics are a wide range of synthetic polymers, synthetic or semi-synthetic materials that use polymers as a main ingredient. Their Plastic ...
, invented in New York in 1907, by
Leo Baekeland Leo Hendrik Arthur Baekeland (November 14, 1863 – February 23, 1944) was a Belgian chemist. He is best known for the inventions of Velox photographic paper in 1893, and Bakelite in 1907. He has been called "The Father of the Plastics Indus ...
, who coined the term "plastics". Dozens of different types of plastics are produced today, such as
polyethylene Polyethylene or (incorrectly) polythene (abbreviated PE; IUPAC The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC ) is an international federation of National Adhering Organizations that represents chemists in individual countri ...

polyethylene
, which is widely used in
product packaging Packaging is the art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities involving creative imagination to express technical proficiency, beauty, emotional power, or conceptual ideas. There is no generally agreed definition of wha ...
, and
polyvinyl chloride Polyvinyl chloride ( colloquial: polyvinyl, vinyl; abbreviated: PVC) is the world's third-most widely produced synthetic plastic Plastics are a wide range of synthetic polymers, synthetic or semi-synthetic materials that use polymers as a m ...
(PVC), used in construction and pipes because of its strength and durability. Many chemists have contributed to the
materials science The Interdisciplinarity, interdisciplinary field of materials science, also commonly termed materials science and engineering, covers the design and discovery of new materials, particularly solids. The intellectual origins of materials science ste ...
of plastics, including
Nobel laureate Nobel laureates of 2012 Alvin E. Roth, Brian Kobilka, Robert J. Lefkowitz">Brian_Kobilka.html" ;"title="Alvin E. Roth, Brian Kobilka">Alvin E. Roth, Brian Kobilka, Robert J. Lefkowitz, David J. Wineland, and Serge Haroche during the ceremony Th ...
Hermann Staudinger Hermann Staudinger (23 March 1881 – 8 September 1965) was a German organic chemist who demonstrated the existence of macromolecules, which he characterized as polymers. For this work he received the 1953 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He is also know ...

Hermann Staudinger
, who has been called "the father of polymer chemistry" and
Herman Mark Herman Francis Mark (May 3, 1895, Vienna – April 6, 1992, Austin, Texas) was an Austrian-American chemist regarded for his contributions to the development of polymer science. Mark's x-ray diffraction work on the molecular structure of fibers pro ...
, known as "the father of polymer physics". The success and dominance of plastics starting in the early 20th century has caused widespread environmental problems, due to their slow decomposition rate in natural ecosystems. Toward the end of the 20th century, the
plastics industryThe plastics industry manufactures polymer A polymer (; Greek '' poly-'', "many" + '' -mer'', "part") is a substance or material consisting of very large molecule File:Pentacene on Ni(111) STM.jpg, A scanning tunneling microscopy image of ...
promoted
recycling Recycling is the process of converting waste Waste (or wastes) are unwanted or unusable materials. Waste is any substance which is discarded after primary use, or is worthless, defective and of no use. A by-product by contrast is a ...

recycling
in order to ease environmental concerns while continuing to produce virgin plastic. The main companies producing plastics doubted the economic viability of recycling at the time, and the economic viability has never improved. Plastic collection and recycling is largely ineffective because of failures of contemporary complexity required in cleaning and sorting post-consumer plastics for effective reuse. Most plastic produced has not been reused, either being captured in
landfills A landfill site, also known as a tip, dump, rubbish dump, garbage dump, or dumping ground, is a site for the disposal of waste materials. Landfill is the oldest and most common form of waste disposal, although the systematic burial of the waste w ...

landfills
or persisting in the environment as
plastic pollution Plastic pollution is the accumulation of plastic objects and particles (e.g. plastic bottles, Plastic shopping bag, bags and microbeads) in the Earth's environment (biophysical), environment that adversely affects wildlife, wildlife habitat, a ...
. Plastic pollution can be found in all the world's major water bodies, for example, creating garbage patches in all of the world's oceans and contaminating terrestrial ecosystems.


Etymology

The word ''
plastic Plastics are a wide range of synthetic polymers, synthetic or semi-synthetic materials that use polymers as a main ingredient. Their Plasticity (physics), plasticity makes it possible for plastics to be Injection moulding, moulded, Extrusion, extr ...
'' derives from the Greek πλαστικός (''plastikos'') meaning "capable of being shaped or molded," and in turn from πλαστός (''plastos'') meaning "molded." As a
noun A noun () is a word that functions as the name of a specific object or set of objects, such as living creatures, places, actions, qualities, states of existence, or ideas.Example nouns for: * Organism, Living creatures (including people, alive, de ...

noun
the word most commonly refers to the solid products of petrochemical-derived manufacturing. The noun ''plasticity'' refers specifically here to the deformability of the materials used in the manufacture of plastics. Plasticity allows molding, extrusion or compression into a variety of shapes: films, fibers, plates, tubes, bottles and boxes, among many others.
Plasticity Plasticity may refer to: Science * Plasticity (physics), in engineering and physics, the propensity of a solid material to undergo permanent deformation under load * Neuroplasticity, in neuroscience, how entire brain structures, and the brain its ...
also has a technical definition in materials science outside the scope of this article referring to the non-reversible change in form of solid substances.


Structure

Most plastics contain
organic Organic may refer to: * Organic, of or relating to an organism, a living entity * Organic, of or relating to an anatomical organ (anatomy), organ Chemistry * Organic matter, matter that has come from a once-living organism, is capable of decay or ...
polymers. The vast majority of these polymers are formed from chains of carbon atoms, with or without the attachment of oxygen, nitrogen or sulfur atoms. These chains comprise many repeating units formed from
monomerA monomer ( ; '' mono-'', "one" + '' -mer'', "part") is a molecule File:Pentacene on Ni(111) STM.jpg, A scanning tunneling microscopy image of pentacene molecules, which consist of linear chains of five carbon rings. A molecule is an electrical ...

monomer
s. Each polymer chain consists of several thousand repeating units. The
backbone The backbone is the vertebral column of a vertebrate. Arts, entertainment, and media Film * Backbone (1923 film), ''Backbone'' (1923 film), 1923 lost silent film starring Alfred Lunt * Backbone (1975 film), ''Backbone'' (1975 film), 1975 Yugoslavi ...
is the part of the chain that is on the ''main path'', linking together a large number of repeat units. To customize the properties of a plastic, different molecular groups called
side chains In organic chemistry and biochemistry Biochemistry or biological chemistry, is the study of chemical processes within and relating to living organisms. A sub-discipline of both chemistry and biology, biochemistry may be divided into three ...
hang from this backbone; they are usually hung from the monomers before the monomers themselves are linked together to form the polymer chain. The structure of these side chains influences the properties of the polymer.


Properties and classifications

Plastics are usually classified by the chemical structure of the polymer's backbone and side chains. Important groups classified in this way include the acrylics,
polyester Polyester is a category of polymers that contain the ester functional group in every repeat unit of their main chain. As a specific material, it most commonly refers to a type called polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Polyesters include naturall ...
s,
silicones A silicone or polysiloxane is a polymer made up of siloxane (−R2Si−O−SiR2−, where R = organic group). They are typically colorless, oils or elastomer, rubber-like substances. Silicones are used in sealants, adhesives, lubricants, medic ...
,
polyurethanes Polyurethane (PUR and PU) is a polymer composed of organic units joined by carbamate (urethane) links. While most polyurethanes are thermosetting polymers that do not melt when heated, thermoplastic polyurethanes are also available. Polyureth ...
, and halogenated plastics. Plastics can be classified by the chemical process used in their synthesis, such as
condensation Condensation is the change of the physical state of matter from the gas, gas phase into the liquid, liquid phase, and is the reverse of vaporization. The word most often refers to the water cycle. It can also be defined as the change in the st ...
,
polyadditionA polymerization reaction that forms polymers via individual independent addition reaction, addition reactions. Polyaddition occurs as a reaction between functional groups on molecules with low degrees of polymerization, such as dimers, trimers and ...

polyaddition
, and cross-linking. They can also be classified by their physical properties, including
hardness Hardness (antonym: softness) is a measure of the resistance to localized plastic deformation induced by either mechanical indentation hardness, indentation or abrasion (mechanical), abrasion. In general, different materials differ in their hardne ...
,
density The density (more precisely, the volumetric mass density; also known as specific mass), of a substance is its mass per unit volume. The symbol most often used for density is ''ρ'' (the lower case Greek letter Rho (letter), rho), although the L ...
,
tensile strength In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science that studies matter, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spa ...
,
thermal resistance Thermal resistance is a heat property and a measurement of a temperature difference by which an object or material resists a heat flow. Thermal resistance is the reciprocal of thermal conductance. *(Absolute) thermal resistance ''R'' in kelvin ...
, and
glass transition temperature The glass–liquid transition, or glass transition, is the gradual and reversible transition in amorphous In condensed matter physics and materials science The interdisciplinary field of materials science, also commonly termed materials sc ...
. Plastics can additionally be classified by their resistance and reactions to various substances and processes, such as exposure to organic solvents,
oxidation (mild reducing agent) are added to powdered potassium permanganate Potassium permanganate is an inorganic compound with the chemical formula KMnO4 and composed of potassium ion, K+ and permanganate, . It is a purplish-black crystalline salt, ...

oxidation
, and
ionizing radiation Ionizing radiation (or ionising radiation), including nuclear radiation, consists of subatomic particles or electromagnetic waves that have sufficient energy to ionization, ionize atoms or molecules by detaching electrons from them. The particles g ...
. Other classifications of plastics are based on qualities relevant to manufacturing or product design for a particular purpose. Examples include
thermoplastics A thermoplastic, or thermosoftening plastic, is a plastic polymer A polymer (; Greek '' poly-'', "many" + '' -mer'', "part") is a substance or material consisting of very large molecule File:Pentacene on Ni(111) STM.jpg, A scanning tunne ...
,
thermosets A thermosetting polymer, resin, or plastic, often called a thermoset, is a polymer A polymer (; Greek '' poly-'', "many" + '' -mer'', "part") is a substance or material consisting of very large molecule File:Pentacene on Ni(111) STM.jpg, ...
,
conductive polymers Conductive polymers or, more precisely, intrinsically conducting polymers (ICPs) are organic polymer A polymer (; Greek ''poly- Poly, from the Greek :wikt:πολύς, πολύς meaning "many" or "much", may refer to: Businesses * China Po ...
,
biodegradable plastics Biodegradable plastics are plastics that can be decomposed by the action of living organisms, usually microbes, into water, carbon dioxide, and biomass. Biodegradable plastics are commonly produced with renewable raw materials, micro-organisms, P ...
,
engineering plastic Engineering plastics are a group of plastic Plastics are a wide range of synthetic polymers, synthetic or semi-synthetic materials that use polymers as a main ingredient. Their Plasticity (physics), plasticity makes it possible for plastics to b ...
s and
elastomer An elastomer is a polymer A polymer (; Greek ''wikt:poly-, poly-'', "many" + ''wikt:-mer, -mer'', "part") is a Chemical substance, substance or material consisting of very large molecules, or macromolecules, composed of many Repeat unit, repe ...
s.


Thermoplastics and thermosetting polymers

One important classification of plastics is the degree to which the chemical processes used to make them are reversible or not. Thermoplastics do not undergo chemical change in their composition when heated and thus can be molded repeatedly. Examples include polyethylene (PE),
polypropylene Polypropylene (PP), also known as polypropene, is a thermoplastic polymer A polymer (; Greek '' poly-'', "many" + '' -mer'', "part") is a substance or material consisting of very large molecule File:Pentacene on Ni(111) STM.jpg, A scan ...

polypropylene
(PP),
polystyrene Polystyrene (PS) is a synthetic aromatic forms of benzene (top) combine to produce an average structure (bottom) In chemistry Chemistry is the scientific discipline involved with Chemical element, elements and chemical compound, com ...

polystyrene
(PS), and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Thermosets, or thermosetting polymers, can melt and take shape only once: after they have solidified, they stay solid. If reheated, thermosets decompose rather than melt. In the thermosetting process, an irreversible chemical reaction occurs. The
vulcanization Vulcanization (British: Vulcanisation) refers to a range of processes for hardening rubber Rubber is also called India rubber, latex, Amazonian rubber, ''caucho'' or ''caoutchouc'', as initially produced, consists of polymer A poly ...

vulcanization
of rubber is an example of this process. Before heating in the presence of sulfur, natural rubber (
polyisoprene Polyisoprene is a collective name for polymers A polymer (; Greek '' poly-'', "many" + '' -mer'', "part") is a substance or material consisting of very large molecule File:Pentacene on Ni(111) STM.jpg, A scanning tunneling microscopy imag ...

polyisoprene
) is a sticky, slightly runny material; after vulcanization, the product is dry and rigid.


Amorphous plastics and crystalline plastics

Many plastics are completely
amorphous In condensed matter physics Condensed matter physics is the field of physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science th ...
(without a highly ordered molecular structure), including thermosets, polystyrene, and
methyl methacrylate Methyl methacrylate (MMA) is an organic compound with the chemical formula, formula CH2=C(CH3)COOCH3. This colorless liquid, the methyl ester of methacrylic acid (MAA), is a monomer produced on a large scale for the production of poly(methyl meth ...
(PMMA).
Crystalline A crystal or crystalline solid is a solid Solid is one of the four fundamental states of matter (the others being liquid, gas and plasma). The molecules in a solid are closely packed together and contain the least amount of kinet ...
plastics exhibit a pattern of more regularly spaced atoms, such as high-density polyethylene (HDPE), polybutylene terephthalate (PBT), and polyether ether ketone (PEEK). However, some plastics are partially amorphous and partially crystalline in molecular structure, giving them both a melting point and one or more glass transitions (the temperature above which the extent of localized molecular flexibility is substantially increased). These so-called semi-crystalline plastics include polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride, polyamides (nylons), polyesters and some polyurethanes.


Conductive polymers

Intrinsically Conducting Polymers (ICP) are organic polymers that conduct electricity. While a conductivity of up to 80 kS/cm in stretch-oriented
polyacetylene Polyacetylene (IUPAC name: polyethyne) usually refers to an organic polymer with the repeating unit (C2H2)''n''. The name refers to its conceptual construction from polymerization of acetylene to give a chain with repeating olefin groups. This co ...
, has been achieved, it does not approach that of most metals. For example, copper has a conductivity of several hundred kS/cm.


Biodegradable plastics and bioplastics


Biodegradable plastics

Biodegradable Biodegradation is the breakdown of organic matter by microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi. Mechanisms The process of biodegradation can be divided into three stages: biodeterioration, biofragmentation, and assimilation (biology), assimila ...
plastics are plastics that degrade (break down) upon exposure to sunlight or
ultra-violet radiation Ultraviolet (UV) is a form of electromagnetic radiation with wavelength from 10 nanometer, nm (with a corresponding frequency around 30 PHz) to 400 nm (750 THz), shorter than that of visible light, but longer than X-rays. UV radiation is p ...
; water or dampness; bacteria; enzymes; or wind abrasion. Attack by insects, such as waxworms and mealworms, can also be considered as forms of biodegradation.
Aerobic Aerobic means "requiring Earth's atmosphere, air," in which "air" usually means oxygen. Aerobic may also refer to * Aerobic exercise, prolonged exercise of moderate intensity * Aerobics, a form of aerobic exercise * Cellular respiration#Aerobic r ...
degradation requires that the plastic be exposed at the surface, whereas
anaerobic Anaerobic means "living, active, occurring, or existing in the absence of free oxygen", as opposed to aerobic which means "living, active, or occurring only in the presence of oxygen." Anaerobic may also refer to: *Adhesive#Anaerobic, Anaerobic adh ...
degradation would be effective in landfill or composting systems. Some companies produce
biodegradable additivesBiodegradable additives are additives that enhance the biodegradation of polymers by allowing microorganisms to utilize the carbon within the polymer chain as a source of energy. Biodegradable additives attract microorganisms to the polymer through ...
to enhance biodegradation. Although starch powder can be added as a filler to allow some plastics to degrade more easily, such treatment does not lead to complete breakdown. Some researchers have
genetically engineered Genetic engineering, also called genetic modification or genetic manipulation, is the direct manipulation of an organism's gene In biology, a gene (from ''genos'' "...Wilhelm Johannsen coined the word gene to describe the Mendelian_in ...
bacteria to synthesize completely biodegradable plastics, such as polyhydroxy butyrate (PHB); however, these are relatively costly as of 2021.


Bioplastics

While most plastics are produced from petrochemicals,
bioplastics Bioplastics are plastic Plastics are a wide range of synthetic polymers, synthetic or semi-synthetic materials that use polymers as a main ingredient. Their Plasticity (physics), plasticity makes it possible for plastics to be Injection moulding, ...
are made substantially from renewable plant materials like cellulose and starch. Due both to the finite limits of fossil fuel reserves and to rising levels of greenhouse gases caused primarily by the burning of those fuels, the development of bioplastics is a growing field. Global production capacity for bio-based plastics is estimated at 327,000 tonnes per year. In contrast, global production of polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), the world's leading petrochemical-derived polyolefins, was estimated at over 150 million tonnes in 2015.


Plastic industry

The plastic industry includes the global production,
compounding In the field of pharmacy, compounding (performed in compounding pharmacies) is preparation of a custom formulation of a medication to fit a unique need of a patient which cannot be met with commercially available products. This may be done for m ...
,
conversion Conversion or convert may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media * Conversion (Doctor Who audio), "Conversion" (''Doctor Who'' audio), an episode of the audio drama ''Cyberman'' * Conversion (Stargate Atlantis), "Conversion" (''Stargate Atlantis ...
and sale of plastic products. Although the
Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard are technical standards developed by international organizations (intergovernmental organizations), such as Codex Alimentarius in food, the World Health Organi ...

Middle East
and
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, largest country in the world, covering over , and encom ...

Russia
produce most of the required
petrochemical Petrochemicals (sometimes abbreviated as petchems) are the product (chemistry), chemical products obtained from petroleum by refining. Some chemical compounds made from petroleum are also obtained from other fossil fuels, such as coal or natural g ...
raw materials; the production of plastic is concentrated in the global East and West. The plastic industry comprises a huge number of companies and can be divided into several sectors:


Production

Since the birth of the plastic industry in the 1950s global production has increases enormously, reaching some 381 million metric tonnes in 2015 (excluding additives). The total amount of plastic generated in that time is estimated to be 8.3 billion tonnes. Plastics are produced in chemical plants by the
polymerization In polymer chemistry, polymerization (American English), or polymerisation (British English), is a process of reacting monomer, monomer molecules together in a chemical reaction to form polymer chains or three-dimensional networks.Clayden, J. ...
of their starting materials (
monomersA monomer ( ; '' mono-'', "one" + '' -mer'', "part") is a molecule that can chemical reaction, react together with other monomer molecules to form a larger polymer chain or three-dimensional network in a process called polymerization. Classification ...
); which are almost always
petrochemical Petrochemicals (sometimes abbreviated as petchems) are the product (chemistry), chemical products obtained from petroleum by refining. Some chemical compounds made from petroleum are also obtained from other fossil fuels, such as coal or natural g ...
in nature. Such facilities are normally large and are visually similar to
oil refineries An oil refinery or petroleum refinery is an industrial process Industrial processes are procedures involving chemical A chemical substance is a form of matter having constant chemical composition and characteristic properties. Some referenc ...
, with sprawling pipework running throughout. The large size of these plants allows them to exploit
economies of scale 330px, As quantity of production increases from Q to Q2, the average cost of each unit decreases from C to C1. LRAC is the long-run average cost In microeconomics, economies of scale are the cost advantages that enterprises obtain due to their sca ...
. Despite this, plastic production is not particularly monopolized, with about 100 companies accounting for 90% of global production. This includes a mixture of private and state-owned enterprises. Roughly half of all production takes place in East Asia, with China being the largest single producer. Major international producers include:


Compounding

Plastic is not sold as a pure unadulterated substance, but is instead mixed with various chemicals and other materials, which are collectively known as additives. These are added during the
compounding In the field of pharmacy, compounding (performed in compounding pharmacies) is preparation of a custom formulation of a medication to fit a unique need of a patient which cannot be met with commercially available products. This may be done for m ...
stage and include substances such as stabilizers,
plasticizer A plasticizer ( UK: plasticiser) is a substance that is added to a material to make it softer and more flexible, to increase its plasticity, to decrease its viscosity The viscosity of a fluid is a measure of its drag (physics), resistance ...
s and
dye 300px, Yarn drying after being dyed in the early American tradition, at Conner Prairie living history museum. A dye is a wiktionary:colored, colored substance that chemically bonds to the wikt:substrate, substrate to which it is being applied. T ...
s, which are intended to improve the lifespan, workability or appearance of the final item. In some cases, this can involve mixing different types of plastic together to form a
polymer blendA polymer blend, or polymer mixture, is a member of a class of materials analogous to metal alloys, in which at least two polymers are blended together to create a new material with different physical properties. History During the 1940s, '50s and ' ...
, such as
high impact polystyrene Graft polymers are segmented copolymers with a linear backbone of one composite and randomly distributed branches of another composite. The picture labeled "graft polymer" shows how grafted chains of species B are covalently bonded to polymer sp ...
. Large companies may do their own compounding prior to production, but some producers have it done by a third party. Companies that specialize in this work are known as Compounders. The compounding of thermosetting plastic is relatively straightforward; as it remains liquid until it is
cured A cure is a completely effective treatment for a disease. Cure, or similar, may also refer to: Places * Cure (river), a river in France * Cures, Sabinum, an ancient Italian town * Cures, Sarthe, a commune in western France People * Curate or cu ...
into its final form. For thermosoftening materials, which are used to make the majority of products, it is necessary to melt the plastic in order to mix-in the additives. This involves heating it to anywhere between . Molten plastic is viscous and exhibits
laminar flow In fluid dynamics, laminar flow is characterized by fluid particles following smooth paths in layers, with each layer moving smoothly past the adjacent layers with little or no mixing. At low velocities, the fluid tends to flow without lateral mix ...

laminar flow
, leading to poor mixing. Compounding is therefore done using extrusion equipment, which is able to supply the necessary heat and mixing to give a properly dispersed product. The concentrations of most additive are usually quite low, however high levels can be added to create
MasterbatchMasterbatch (MB) is a solid additive for plastic used for coloring plastics (color masterbatch) or imparting other properties to plastics (additive masterbatch). A liquid dosage form is called liquid color. Masterbatch is a concentrated mixture of p ...
products. The additives in these are concentrated but still properly dispersed in the host resin. Masterbatch granules can be mixed with cheaper bulk polymer and will release their additives during processing to give a
homogeneous Homogeneity and heterogeneity are concepts often used in the Science, sciences and statistics relating to the Uniformity (chemistry), uniformity of a Chemical substance, substance or organism. A material or image that is homogeneous is uniform in ...
final product. This can be cheaper than working with a fully compounded material and is particularly common for the introduction of colour.


Converting

Companies than produce finished goods are known as converters (sometimes processors). The vast majority of plastics produced worldwide are thermosoftening and must be heated until molten in order to be molded. Various sorts of
extrusion allow bars to be joined with special connectors. Extrusion is a process used to create objects of a fixed cross section (geometry), cross-sectional profile. A material is pushed through a Die (manufacturing), die of the desired cross-section. Th ...
equipment exist which can then form the plastic into almost any shape. * Film blowing - Plastic films (carrier bags, sheeting) *
Blow molding Blow molding (or moulding) is a manufacturing process for forming and joining together hollow plastic parts. It is also used for forming glass bottles or other hollow shapes. In general, there are three main types of blow molding: extrusion blo ...

Blow molding
- Thin-walled hollow objects in large quantities (drinks bottles, toys) *
Rotational molding Rotational molding ( BrE: moulding) involves a heated hollow mold which is filled with a charge or shot weight of material. It is then slowly rotated (usually around two perpendicular axes), causing the softened material to disperse and stick ...
- Thick-walled hollow objects ( IBC tanks) *
Injection molding Injection moulding (U.S. spelling: injection molding) is a manufacturing process for producing parts by injecting molten material into a mould, or mold. Injection moulding can be performed with a host of materials mainly including metal ...

Injection molding
- Solid objects (phone cases, keyboards) *
Spinning Spin or spinning may refer to: Businesses * SPIN (cable system) or South Pacific Island Network * Spin (company), an American scooter-sharing system * SPiN, a chain of table tennis lounges Computing * SPIN model checker, Gerard Holzmann's tool fo ...
- Produces fibers (
nylon Nylon is a generic designation for a family of synthetic polymers composed of polyamides (polymer, repeating units linked by amide links).The polyamides may be aliphatic or Aromaticity, semi-aromatic. Nylon is a thermoplastic silky material, ge ...

nylon
,
spandex Spandex, Lycra, or elastane is a synthetic fiber known for its exceptional elasticity. It is a polyether-polyurea copolymer that was invented in 1958 by chemist Joseph Shivers at DuPont's Benger Laboratory in Waynesboro, Virginia., "Segmented ...
etc) For thermosetting materials the process is slightly different, as the plastics are liquid to begin with and but must be
cured A cure is a completely effective treatment for a disease. Cure, or similar, may also refer to: Places * Cure (river), a river in France * Cures, Sabinum, an ancient Italian town * Cures, Sarthe, a commune in western France People * Curate or cu ...
to give solid products, but much of the equipment is broadly similar.


Types of plastics


Commodity plastics

Around 70% of global production is concentrated in six major polymer types, the so called
commodity plastics Commodity plastics or Commodity polymers are plastics produced in high volumes for applications where exceptional material properties are not needed (such as packaging, food containers, and household products). In contrast to engineering plastics, ...
. Unlike most other plastics these can often be identified by their
resin identification code The ASTM International Resin Identification Coding System, often abbreviated RIC, is a set of symbols appearing on plastic Plastics are a wide range of synthetic polymers, synthetic or semi-synthetic materials that use polymers as a main ingre ...

resin identification code
(RIC): :
Polyethylene terephthalate Polyethylene terephthalate (sometimes written ''poly(ethylene terephthalate)''), commonly abbreviated PET, PETE, or the obsolete PETP or PET-P, is the most common thermoplastic A thermoplastic, or thermosoftening plastic, is a plastic polymer m ...

Polyethylene terephthalate
(PET or PETE) :
High-density polyethylene High-density polyethylene (HDPE) or polyethylene high-density (PEHD) is a thermoplastic polymer produced from the monomer ethylene. It is sometimes called "alkathene" or "polythene" when used for HDPE pipes. With a high strength-to-density ratio, H ...
(HDPE or PE-HD) :
Polyvinyl chloride Polyvinyl chloride ( colloquial: polyvinyl, vinyl; abbreviated: PVC) is the world's third-most widely produced synthetic plastic Plastics are a wide range of synthetic polymers, synthetic or semi-synthetic materials that use polymers as a m ...
(PVC or V) :
Low-density polyethylene Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) is a thermoplastic A thermoplastic, or thermosoftening plastic, is a plastic polymer material that becomes pliable or moldable at a certain elevated temperature and solidifies upon cooling. Most thermoplastics hav ...
(LDPE or PE-LD), :
Polypropylene Polypropylene (PP), also known as polypropene, is a thermoplastic polymer A polymer (; Greek '' poly-'', "many" + '' -mer'', "part") is a substance or material consisting of very large molecule File:Pentacene on Ni(111) STM.jpg, A scan ...

Polypropylene
(PP) :
Polystyrene Polystyrene (PS) is a synthetic aromatic forms of benzene (top) combine to produce an average structure (bottom) In chemistry Chemistry is the scientific discipline involved with Chemical element, elements and chemical compound, com ...

Polystyrene
(PS)
Polyurethane Polyurethane (PUR and PU) is a polymer A polymer (; Greek '' poly-'', "many" + '' -mer'', "part") is a substance or material consisting of very large molecule File:Pentacene on Ni(111) STM.jpg, A scanning tunneling microscopy image of ...

Polyurethane
s (PUR) and PP&A fibresPP&A stand for
polyester Polyester is a category of polymers that contain the ester functional group in every repeat unit of their main chain. As a specific material, it most commonly refers to a type called polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Polyesters include naturall ...
,
polyamideA polyamide is a polymer A polymer (; Greek '' poly-'', "many" + '' -mer'', "part") is a substance or material consisting of very large molecule File:Pentacene on Ni(111) STM.jpg, A scanning tunneling microscopy image of pentacene molecule ...

polyamide
and acrylate polymers; all of which are used to make synthetic fibres. Care should be taken not to confuse it with
polyphthalamide Polyphthalamide (aka. PPA, High Performance Polyamide) is a subset of thermoplastic A thermoplastic, or thermosoftening plastic, is a plastic polymer material that becomes pliable or moldable at a certain elevated temperature and solidifies upon c ...
(PPA)
are often also included as major commodity classes, although they usually lack RICs, as they are chemically quite diverse groups. These materials are inexpensive, versatile and easy to work with, making them the preferred choice for the mass production everyday objects. Their biggest single application is in packaging, with some 146 million tonnes being used this way in 2015, equivalent to 36% of global production. Due to their dominance; many of the properties and problems commonly associated with plastics, such as plastic pollution, pollution stemming from their poor biodegradability, are ultimately attributable to commodity plastics. A huge number of plastic exist beyond the commodity plastics, with many having exceptional properties


Engineering plastics

Engineering plastics are more robust and are used to make products such as vehicle parts, building and construction materials, and some machine parts. In some cases they are
polymer blendA polymer blend, or polymer mixture, is a member of a class of materials analogous to metal alloys, in which at least two polymers are blended together to create a new material with different physical properties. History During the 1940s, '50s and ' ...
s formed by mixing different plastics together (ABS, HIPS etc). Engineering plastics can replace metals in vehicles, reducing their weight, with a 10% reduction improving fuel efficiency by 6-8%. Roughly 50% of the volume of modern cars is made of plastic but this only accounts for 12-17% of the vehicle weight. *Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS): electronic equipment cases (e.g. computer monitors, printers, keyboards) and drainage pipe *High impact polystyrene (HIPS): refrigerator liners, food packaging and vending cups *Polycarbonate (PC): compact discs, eyeglasses, riot shields, security windows, traffic lights, and lenses *Polycarbonate + acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (PC + ABS): a blend of PC and ABS that creates a stronger plastic used in car interior and exterior parts, and in mobile phone bodies *Polyethylene + acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (PE + ABS): a slippery blend of PE and ABS used in low-duty dry bearings *Acrylic glass, Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) (acrylic polymer, acrylic): contact lenses (of the original "hard" variety), glazing (best known in this form by its various trade names around the world; e.g. Perspex, Plexiglas, and Oroglas), fluorescent-light diffusers, and rear light covers for vehicles. It also forms the basis of artistic and commercial acrylic paints, when suspended in water with the use of other agents. *Silicones (polysiloxanes): heat-resistant resins used mainly as sealants but also used for high-temperature cooking utensils and as a base resin for industrial paints *Urea-formaldehyde (UF): one of the aminoplasts used as a multi-colorable alternative to phenolics: used as a wood adhesive (for plywood, chipboard, hardboard) and electrical switch housings


High-performance plastics

High-performance plastics usually expensive, with their use limited to specialised applications which make use of their superior properties. *Aramids: a class of heat-resistant and strong synthetic fibers used in aerospace and military applications, includes Kevlar and Nomex, and Twaron. *Polyetheretherketone (PEEK): strong, chemical- and heat-resistant thermoplastic; its biocompatibility allows for use in medical implant applications and aerospace moldings. It is one of the most expensive commercial polymers. *Polyetherimide (PEI) (Ultem): a high-temperature, chemically stable polymer that does not crystallize *Polyimide: a high-temperature plastic used in materials such as Kapton tape *Polysulfone: high-temperature melt-processable resin used in membranes, filtration media, water heater dip tubes and other high-temperature applications *Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), or Teflon: heat-resistant, low-friction coatings used in non-stick surfaces for frying pans, plumber's tape and water slides *Polyamide-imide (PAI): High-performance engineering plastic extensively used in high performance gears, switches, transmission and other automotive components, and aerospace parts.


Applications

The largest application for plastics is as packaging materials, but they are used in a wide range of other sectors, including: construction (pipes, gutters, door and windows), textiles (stretch fabric, stretchable fabrics, Polar fleece, fleece), consumer goods (toys, tableware, toothbrushes), transportation (headlights, bumpers, body panels, wing mirrors), electronics (phones, computers, televisions) and as machine parts.


Additives

Additives are chemicals blended into plastics to change their performance or appearance, making it possible to alter the properties of plastics to better suit their intended applications. Additives are therefore one of the reasons why plastic is used so widely. At a minimum all plastic contains some polymer stabilisers which permit them to be melt-processed (moulded) without suffering polymer degradation. Other additives are optional and can be added as required, with loadings varying significantly between applications. Pure unadulterated plastic (barefoot resin) is never sold, even by the primary producers. Although additives are blended into plastic they remain chemically distinct from it, and can gradually leach back out. Many of the controversies associated with plastics actually relate to their additives, as some compounds can be persistent, Bioaccumulation, bioaccumulating and potentially harmful. The now banned flame retardants OctaBDE and PentaBDE are an example of this, while the health effects of phthalates are an ongoing area of public concern. As additives change the properties of plastics they have to be considered during recycling. Presently, almost all recycling is performed by simply remelting and reforming used plastic into new items. Waste plastic, even if it is all of the same polymer type, will contain varying types and amounts of additives. Mixing these together can give a material with inconsistent properties, which can be unappealing to industry. The most obvious example of this is with plastic colorants. Mixing different coloured plastics together can produce a discoloured or brown material and for this reason plastic is usually sorted by both polymer type and color before recycling.


Toxicity

Pure plastics have low toxicity due to their insolubility in water, and because they have a large molecular weight, they are biochemically inert. Plastic products contain a variety of additives, however, some of which can be toxic. For example, plasticizers like adipates and phthalates are often added to brittle plastics like PVC to make them pliable enough for use in food packaging, toys, and many other items. Traces of these compounds can leach out of the product. Owing to concerns over the effects of such leachates, the EU has restricted the use of Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, DEHP (di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate) and other phthalates in some applications, and the US has limited the use of DEHP, Dibutyl phthalate, DPB, Benzyl butyl phthalate, BBP, Diisononyl phthalate, DINP, Diisodecyl phthalate, DIDP, and Di(n-octyl) phthalate, DnOP in children's toys and child-care articles through the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. Some compounds leaching from polystyrene food containers have been proposed to interfere with hormone functions and are suspected human carcinogens (cancer-causing substances). Other chemicals of potential concern include alkylphenols. While a finished plastic may be non-toxic, the monomers used in the manufacture of its parent polymers may be toxic. In some cases, small amounts of those chemicals can remain trapped in the product unless suitable processing is employed. For example, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has recognized vinyl chloride, the precursor to PVC, as a human carcinogen.


Bisphenol A (BPA)

Some plastic products degrade to chemicals with estrogen, estrogenic activity. The primary building block of polycarbonates, bisphenol A (BPA), is an estrogen-like endocrine disruptor that may leach into food. Research in Environmental Health Perspectives finds that BPA leached from the lining of tin cans, dental sealants and polycarbonate bottles can increase the body weight of lab animals' offspring. A more recent animal study suggests that even low-level exposure to BPA results in insulin resistance, which can lead to inflammation and heart disease. As of January 2010, the ''Los Angeles Times'' reported that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is spending $30 million to investigate indications of BPA's link to cancer. Bis(2-ethylhexyl) adipate, present in plastic wrap based on PVC, is also of concern, as are the volatile organic compounds present in new car smell. The EU has a permanent ban on the use of phthalates in toys. In 2009, the US government banned certain types of phthalates commonly used in plastic.


Environmental effects

Because the chemical structure of most plastics renders them durable, they are resistant to many natural degradation processes. Much of this material may persist for centuries or longer, given the demonstrated persistence of structurally similar natural materials such as amber. There are differing estimates of how much plastic waste has been produced in the last century. By one estimate, one billion tons of plastic waste have been discarded since the 1950s. Others estimate a cumulative human production of 8.3 billion tons of plastic, of which 6.3 billion tons is waste, with only 9% getting recycled. The Ocean Conservancy reported that China, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam dump more plastic into the sea than all other countries combined. The rivers Yangtze, Indus, Yellow, Hai, Nile, Ganges, Pearl, Amur, Niger, and Mekong "transport 88% to 95% of the global [plastics] load into the sea." The presence of plastics, particularly microplastics, within the food chain is increasing. In the 1960s microplastics were observed in the guts of seabirds, and since then have been found in increasing concentrations. The long-term effects of plastics in the food chain are poorly understood. In 2009 it was estimated that 10% of modern waste was plastic, although estimates vary according to region. Meanwhile, 50% to 80% of debris in marine areas is plastic. Plastic is often used in agriculture. There is more plastic in the soil that in the oceans. The presence of plastic in the environment hurt ecosystems and human health. Research on the environmental impacts has typically focused on the disposal phase. However, the production of plastics is also responsible for substantial environmental, health and socioeconomic impacts. Prior to the Montreal Protocol, Chlorofluorocarbon, CFCs had been commonly used in the manufacture of the plastic polystyrene, the production of which had contributed to depletion of the ozone layer. Efforts to reduce environmental effects of plastics may include reduction of plastics production and use, waste- and recycling-policies, and the proactive development and deployment of List of alternatives to plastics, alternatives to plastics such as for sustainable packaging.


Microplastics


Decomposition of plastics

Plastics polymer degradation, degrade by a variety of processes, the most significant of which is usually Photo-oxidation of polymers, photo-oxidation. Their chemical structure determines their fate. Polymers' marine degradation takes much longer as a result of the saline environment and cooling effect of the sea, contributing to the persistence of plastic debris in certain environments. Recent studies have shown, however, that plastics in the ocean decompose faster than had been previously thought, due to exposure to the sun, rain, and other environmental conditions, resulting in the release of toxic chemicals such as bisphenol A. However, due to the increased volume of plastics in the ocean, decomposition has slowed down. The Marine Conservancy has predicted the decomposition rates of several plastic products: It is estimated that a foam plastic cup will take 50 years, a plastic beverage holder will take 400 years, a disposable nappy, disposable diaper will take 450 years, and fishing line will take 600 years to degrade. Microbial species capable of degrading plastics are known to science, some of which are potentially useful for disposal of certain classes of plastic waste. *In 1975, a team of Japanese scientists studying ponds containing waste water from a nylon factory discovered a strain of ''Flavobacterium'' that digests certain byproducts of nylon 6 manufacture, such as the linear dimer of Aminocaproic acid, 6-aminohexanoate. Nylon 4 (polybutyrolactam) can be degraded by the ND-10 and ND-11 strands of ''Pseudomonas sp.'' found in sludge, resulting in GABA (γ-aminobutyric acid) as a byproduct. *Several species of soil fungi can consume polyurethane, including two species of the Ecuadorian fungus ''Pestalotiopsis''. They can consume polyurethane both aerobically and anaerobically (such as at the bottom of landfills). *Methanogenic microbial consortia degrade styrene, using it as a carbon source. ''Pseudomonas putida'' can convert styrene oil into various biodegradable plastic, biodegradable polyhydroxyalkanoates. *Microbial communities isolated from soil samples mixed with starch have been shown to be capable of degrading polypropylene. *The fungus ''Aspergillus fumigatus'' effectively degrades plasticized PVC. ''Phanerochaete chrysosporium'' has been grown on PVC in a mineral salt agar. ''P. chrysosporium'', ''Lentinus tigrinus'', ''Aspergillus niger, A. niger'', and ''Aspergillus sydowii, A. sydowii'' can also effectively degrade PVC. *Phenol-formaldehyde, commonly known as Bakelite, is degraded by the white rot fungus ''P. chrysosporium''. *''Acinetobacter'' has been found to partially degrade low-molecular-weight polyethylene oligomers. When used in combination, ''Pseudomonas fluorescens'' and ''Sphingomonas'' can degrade over 40% of the weight of plastic bags in less than three months. The thermophilic bacterium ''Brevibacillus borstelensis'' (strain 707) was isolated from a soil sample and found capable of using low-density
polyethylene Polyethylene or (incorrectly) polythene (abbreviated PE; IUPAC The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC ) is an international federation of National Adhering Organizations that represents chemists in individual countri ...

polyethylene
as a sole carbon source when incubated at 50°C. Pre-exposure of the plastic to ultraviolet radiation broke chemical bonds and aided biodegradation; the longer the period of UV exposure, the greater the promotion of the degradation. *Hazardous molds have been found aboard space stations that degrade rubber into a digestible form. *Several species of yeasts, bacteria, algae and lichens have been found growing on synthetic polymer artifacts in museums and at archaeological sites. *In the plastic-polluted waters of the Sargasso Sea, bacteria have been found that consume various types of plastic; however, it is unknown to what extent these bacteria effectively clean up poisons rather than simply release them into the marine microbial ecosystem. *Plastic-eating microbes also have been found in landfills. *''Nocardia'' can degrade PET with an esterase enzyme. *The fungus ''Geotrichum candidum'', found in Belize, has been found to consume the polycarbonate plastic found in CDs. *Futuro houses are made of fiberglass-reinforced polyesters, polyester-polyurethane, and PMMA. One such house was found to be harmfully degraded by ''Cyanobacteria'' and ''Archaea''.


Recycling


Climate change

According to one report, plastic contributed greenhouse gases in the equivalent of 850 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere in 2019. Emissions could grow to 1.34 billion tons by 2030. By 2050, plastic could emit 56 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions, as much as 14% of the earth's remaining Emissions budget, carbon budget. The effect of plastics on global warming is mixed. Plastics are generally made from petroleum, thus the production of plastics creates further emissions. However, due to the lightness and durability of plastic versus glass or metal, plastic may reduce energy consumption. For example, packaging beverages in PET plastic rather than glass or metal is estimated to save 52% in transportation energy.


Production of plastics

Production of plastics from crude oil requires 7.9 to 13.7 kWh/lb (taking into account the average efficiency of US utility stations of 35%). Producing silicon and semiconductors for modern electronic equipment is even more energy consuming: 29.2 to 29.8 kWh/lb for silicon, and about 381 kWh/lb for semiconductors. This is much higher than the energy needed to produce many other materials. For example, to produce iron (from iron ore) requires 2.5-3.2 kWh/lb of energy; glass (from sand, etc.) 2.3–4.4 kWh/lb; steel (from iron) 2.5–6.4 kWh/lb; and paper (from timber) 3.2–6.4 kWh/lb.


Incineration of plastics

Controlled high-temperature incineration, above 850°C for two seconds, performed with selective additional heating, breaks down toxic dioxins and furans from burning plastic, and is widely used in municipal solid waste incineration. Municipal solid waste incinerators also normally include flue gas treatments to reduce pollutants further. This is needed because uncontrolled incineration of plastic produces polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, a carcinogen (cancer causing chemical). The problem occurs because the heat content of the waste stream varies. Open-air burning of plastic occurs at lower temperatures, and normally releases such toxicity, toxic fumes.


Pyrolytic disposal

Plastics can be Pyrolysis#Waste management, pyrolyzed into alkane, hydrocarbon fuels, since plastics include hydrogen and carbon. One kilogram of waste plastic produces roughly a liter of hydrocarbon.


History

The development of plastics has evolved from the use of naturally plastic materials (e.g., Natural gum, gums and shellac) to the use of the chemical modification of those materials (e.g., natural rubber, cellulose, collagen, and Casein, milk proteins), and finally to completely synthetic plastics (e.g., bakelite, epoxy, and PVC). Early plastics were bio-derived materials such as egg and blood proteins, which are organic polymers. In around 1600 BC, Mesoamericans used natural rubber for balls, bands, and figurines. Treated cattle horns were used as windows for lanterns in the Middle Ages. Materials that mimicked the properties of horns were developed by treating milk proteins with lye. In the nineteenth century, as chemistry developed during the Industrial Revolution, many materials were reported. The development of plastics accelerated with Charles Goodyear's 1839 discovery of
vulcanization Vulcanization (British: Vulcanisation) refers to a range of processes for hardening rubber Rubber is also called India rubber, latex, Amazonian rubber, ''caucho'' or ''caoutchouc'', as initially produced, consists of polymer A poly ...

vulcanization
to harden natural rubber. Parkesine, invented by Alexander Parkes in 1855 and patented the following year, is considered the first man-made plastic. It was manufactured from cellulose (the major component of plant cell walls) treated with nitric acid as a solvent. The output of the process (commonly known as cellulose nitrate or pyroxilin) could be dissolved in alcohol and hardened into a transparent and elastic material that could be molded when heated. By incorporating pigments into the product, it could be made to resemble ivory. Parkesine was unveiled at the 1862 International Exhibition in London and garnered for Parkes the bronze medal. In 1893, French chemist Auguste Trillat discovered the means to insolubilize casein (milk proteins) by immersion in formaldehyde, producing material marketed as galalith. In 1897, mass-printing press owner Wilhelm Krische of Hanover, Germany, was commissioned to develop an alternative to blackboards. The resultant horn-like plastic made from casein was developed in cooperation with the Austrian chemist (Friedrich) Adolph Spitteler (1846–1940). Although unsuitable for the intended purpose, other uses would be discovered. The world's first fully synthetic plastic was
Bakelite Bakelite ( ; sometimes spelled Baekelite) or polyoxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydride was the first plastic Plastics are a wide range of synthetic polymers, synthetic or semi-synthetic materials that use polymers as a main ingredient. Their Plastic ...
, invented in New York in 1907 by
Leo Baekeland Leo Hendrik Arthur Baekeland (November 14, 1863 – February 23, 1944) was a Belgian chemist. He is best known for the inventions of Velox photographic paper in 1893, and Bakelite in 1907. He has been called "The Father of the Plastics Indus ...
, who coined the term ''plastics''. Many chemists have contributed to the
materials science The Interdisciplinarity, interdisciplinary field of materials science, also commonly termed materials science and engineering, covers the design and discovery of new materials, particularly solids. The intellectual origins of materials science ste ...
of plastics, including Nobel laureate
Hermann Staudinger Hermann Staudinger (23 March 1881 – 8 September 1965) was a German organic chemist who demonstrated the existence of macromolecules, which he characterized as polymers. For this work he received the 1953 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He is also know ...

Hermann Staudinger
, who has been called "the father of polymer chemistry," and
Herman Mark Herman Francis Mark (May 3, 1895, Vienna – April 6, 1992, Austin, Texas) was an Austrian-American chemist regarded for his contributions to the development of polymer science. Mark's x-ray diffraction work on the molecular structure of fibers pro ...
, known as "the father of polymer physics." After World War I, improvements in chemistry led to an explosion of new forms of plastics, with mass production beginning in the 1940s and 1950s. Among the earliest examples in the wave of new polymers were polystyrene (first produced by BASF in the 1930s) and polyvinyl chloride (first created in 1872 but commercially produced in the late 1920s). In 1923, Durite Plastics, Inc., was the first manufacturer of phenol-furfural resins. In 1933, polyethylene was discovered by Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) researchers Reginald Gibson and Eric Fawcett. The discovery of polyethylene terephthalate is credited to employees of the Calico Printers' Association in the UK in 1941; it was licensed to DuPont for the US and ICI otherwise, and as one of the few plastics appropriate as a replacement for glass in many circumstances, resulting in widespread use for bottles in Europe. In 1954 polypropylene was discovered by Giulio Natta and began to be manufactured in 1957. Also in 1954 expanded polystyrene (used for building insulation, packaging, and cups) was invented by Dow Chemical.


See also

* Corn construction * Films * Light activated resin * Microplastics, Nurdle * Molding (process) ** Injection molding **
Rotational molding Rotational molding ( BrE: moulding) involves a heated hollow mold which is filled with a charge or shot weight of material. It is then slowly rotated (usually around two perpendicular axes), causing the softened material to disperse and stick ...
* Organic light emitting diode * Plastic film * Plastic recycling * Plastics engineering * Plastics extrusion * Plasticulture * Biodegradable plastic * Bioplastic * :Organisms breaking down plastic, Organisms breaking down plastic * Progressive bag alliance * Roll-to-roll processing * Self-healing plastic * Thermal cleaning * Thermoforming * Timeline of materials technology


References

* ''Substantial parts of this text originated from'
An Introduction to Plastics v1.0
''by Greg Goebel (1 March 2001), which is in the public domain''.


External links

* * * * * * {{Authority control Plastics, Dielectrics