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Saturday, 11 March 2017


A plastic is a material consisting of malleable synthetic or semi-synthetic organic compounds.. The word comes from the Greek plastikos, meaning capable of being shaped and molded.

That sense of 'plastic' has been recorded in English since the late 16th century.

The development of plastics has evolved from the use of natural plastic materials (e.g., chewing gum) to the use of chemically modified, natural materials (e.g., natural rubber) and finally to completely synthetic molecules (e.g., bakelite).

Most plastics are man-made, commonly from chemical products derived from petroleum. Engineers refine the petroleum which goes through a heating process, developing ethylene and propylene, which are the chemical building blocks for many plastics. These chemicals are then combined with other chemicals to produce a polymer.

Household items made of various types of plastic. By ImGz Wikipedia
The very first man-made plastic was Parkesine, invented by Alexander Parkes in 1856. It cracked and was flammable, so was not a total success, but it did open the eyes of the world to the possibilities of plastic.

American inventor John Wesley Hyatt experimented with Parkesine, a hardened form of nitrocellulose, while researching a substitute for ivory to produce billiard balls. He eventually developed a commercially viable way of producing solid, stable nitrocellulose, which he patented in the United States in 1869 as "Celluloid." This new plastic entered production in 1872.

'Plastic surgeon' arrived in 1863, 'Plastic explosives' were first referred to in 1907 and the term 'plastic bag' was first used in 1941. The latter referred to composite constructions with handles fixed to the bag rather than a complete plastic carrier.

The creation of Bakelite, the first commercially successful totally synthetic plastic, was announced by its inventor Leo Baekeland on February 5, 1909. The Belgian chemist devised the plastic as a possible man-made replacement for shellac, which was made from excretions of the kerria lacca insect.

The first semi-commercial Bakelizer, from Baekeland's laboratory

Credit and debit cards were first called 'plastic money' in 1969.

The Boeing 787 came into service in 2009 with its skin is made up of 100% Plastic composites. Plastic makes up 50% of all materials in the plane.

In developed countries, about a third of plastic is used in packaging and another third in buildings such as piping used in plumbing.

Most plastics are durable and degrade very slowly starting due to its composition of very large molecules. This has led to environmental concerns regarding its slow decomposition rate. One approach to this problem is recycling.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the name given to a collection of marine debris mostly comprising plastic in the North Pacific Ocean.

Five Asian countries are responsible for 60% of the plastic waste in the world's oceans, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Over 90% of the ocean's plastic waste comes from just ten rivers, eight of which are in Asia (the Ganges, Indus, Yellow, Yangtze, Haihe, Pearl, Mekong and Amur), and two of which are in Africa (the Nile and the Niger).

The weight of the discarded plastic in our oceans is now greater than that of all the living fish.

Every piece of plastic ever made still exists.

Source Daily Express

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