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what is plastic

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Plastic is the most prevalent type of marine debris found in our ocean and Great Lakes. Polymers are chemical compounds whose molecules are very large, often resembling long chains made up of a seemingly endless series of interconnected links. It's currently ranked as the third most widely used plastic in the world (behind polyethylene and polypropylene). Nearly all plastics display elongation when they are stressed that is not recovered after the stress is removed. Plastic polymers consist of chains of linked subunits called monomers. An example would be polycarbonate, whose molecules contain two aromatic (benzene) rings: The distinction between carbon-chain and heterochain polymers is reflected in the table, in which selected properties and applications of the most important carbon-chain and heterochain plastics are shown and from which links are provided directly to entries that describe these materials in greater detail. Nontoxic polymers may also degrade into chemicals when they are heated. Plastic is any synthetic or semisynthetic organic polymer. For a fuller understanding of the materials from which plastics are made, see chemistry of industrial polymers. The name "plastic" refers to the property of plasticity, the ability to deform without breaking. Thermosetting polymers, also known as thermosets, solidify into a permanent shape. Many of the chemical names of the polymers employed as plastics have become familiar to consumers, although some are better known by their abbreviations or trade names. Thus, polyethylene terephthalate and polyvinyl chloride are commonly referred to as PET and PVC, while foamed polystyrene and polymethyl methacrylate are known by their trademarked names, Styrofoam and Plexiglas (or Perspex). *All values shown are for glass-fibre-reinforced samples (except for polyurethane). Clear plastic is one of the most common materials used in manufacturing. Plastic hangs around in the environment for centuries, so recycling is the best method of disposal. See our Sustainable Materials Management web area for relevant information and our S… Free up cash flow, tap early pay discounts and earn more rewards. Some are trans… Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a popular thermoplastic that's odorless, solid, brittle, and generally white in color. All plastics are polymers but not all polymers are plastic. (The term resin dates from the early years of the plastics industry; it originally referred to naturally occurring amorphous solids such as shellac and rosin.) Thermoplastics, on the other hand, can be heated and remolded over and over again. Plastics are extremely versatile materials and are ideal for a wide range of consumer and industrial applications. The composition, structure, and properties of plastics, Physical states and molecular morphologies, The processing and fabrication of plastics, https://www.britannica.com/science/plastic, Science History Institute - The History and Future of Plastics, plastic - Children's Encyclopedia (Ages 8-11), plastics - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). PVC is most commonly used in plumbing and drainage applications, although it's also sold in the form of pellets or as resin in its powder form. "Plastic Love" is a 1984 J-pop song performed by Japanese singer/songwriter Mariya Takeuchi (竹内 まりや). Thermoplastic elastomers are described in the article elastomer. Apply masking tape around damage before filling to keep a clean surface around the repair and limit sanding afterwards. Here's a look at what plastic is and how it is formed. Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. The Agency uses this information to measure the success of materials management programs across the country and to characterize the national waste stream. Giving up take-out coffee cups all together is ideal, but at the very least, give up the … Industrial fabricators of plastic products tend to think of plastics as either “commodity” resins or “specialty” resins. Plastics also can be divided into two distinct categories on the basis of their chemical composition. Acrylic is a transparent plastic material with outstanding strength, stiffness, and optical clarity.Acrylic sheet is easy to fabricate, bonds well with adhesives and solvents, and is easy to thermoform. It is important to note that for each polymer type listed in the table there can be many subtypes, since any of a dozen industrial producers of any polymer can offer 20 or 30 different variations for use in specific applications. However, thin sheets of these polymers can be used as films (e.g., polyethylene). By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Welding is a relatively simple task to do at home since plastic is so soft and pliable. Crude oil is a complex mixture of thousands of compounds and needs to be processed before it can be used. milk bottles, wire and cable insulation, toys, packaging film, grocery bags, agricultural mulch, appliance housings, helmets, pipe fittings, pipe, conduit, home siding, window frames, impact-resistant windows, skylights, canopies, self-lubricated bearings, nonstick cookware, compact discs, safety glasses, sporting goods, machine parts, appliances, electrical equipment, laminated circuit boards, flooring, aircraft parts, flexible and rigid foams for upholstery, insulation. Plastiq is bill payment with benefits. Plastic is everywhere: In your home, your office, your school — and your ocean. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC or V) Polyvinyl chloride is designated a resin identification code of 3.It is … They are corrosion resistant to many substances which attack other materials, making them durable and suitable for use in harsh environments. Plastic resins are also used in a variety of container and packaging products, such as PET beverage bottles, HDPE bottles for milk and water, and a wide variety of other resin types used in other plastic containers, bags, sacks, wraps and lids. Simply glue the joints using a primer and liquid cement. Different monomers link to form copolymers. Naturally occurring materials, such as wood, horn and rosin, are also composed of molecules of high molecular weight. For the purposes of this article, plastics are primarily defined not on the basis of their chemical composition but on the basis of their engineering behaviour. In other words, while other elements might be present, plastics always include carbon and hydrogen. EPA began collecting and reporting data on the generation and disposition of waste in the United States more than 30 years ago. 4. This property of plasticity, often found in combination with other special properties such as low density, low electrical conductivity, transparency, and toughness, allows plastics to be made into a great variety of products. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Our oceans are now awash in at least 150 million tons of plastic, an amount that researchers say will soon surpass the weight of all the fish in … Plastics tend to be durable, with a slow rate of degradation. Plastic near waterways that may find its way into the oceans through rivers is a prime example. HDPE (high density polyethylene) is a versatile plastic with many uses, especially when it comes to packaging. Examples of toxic additives include phthalates. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. They are amorphous and considered to have infinite molecular weight. KC Pro. The production of plastics begins with the distillation of crude oil in an oil refinery. Whether you need to repair a crack or join pieces of plastic together, welding is the solution. HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) HDPE plastic is the stiff plastic used to make milk jugs, detergent … Most plastics are strong, long-lasting, and lightweight. All the commodity plastics listed above fall into this category. These types of plastics would be biodegradable and better for the environment. Plastics typically have high molecular weight, meaning each molecule can have thousands of atoms bound together. If identical monomers are joined, it forms a homopolymer. For this reason the properties indicated in the table must be taken as approximations. Most homes since mid-1970 have plastic pipes and fittings because it’s inexpensive and easy to use. Plastic is a material made to last forever, yet 33 percent of all plastic - water bottles, bags and straws - are used just once and thrown away. Can you filter your way through our chemistry quiz? The polymer used to make plastic is almost always mixed with additives, including colorants, plasticizers, stabilizers, fillers, and reinforcements. Flow plasticity is a solid mechanics theory that is used to describe the plastic behavior of materials. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Plastic is any synthetic or semisynthetic organic polymer. Make sure to paint or coat exterior wood repairs for long-term durability. How to use plastic in a sentence. In other words, while other elements might be present, plastics always include carbon and hydrogen. Please select which sections you would like to print: Corrections? Check the container or its label to confirm that it can be used in the dishwasher or freezer, and follow directions (e.g., place it on the top rack of the dishwasher if recommended). Most automobile interiors today are made largely of plastic parts. Plastic: Plastic pipe comes as either ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene) or PVC (polyvinyl-chloride). Pure plastics are generally insoluble in water and nontoxic. Trash left along the levee instead of being placed in the trashcans nearby is another example. However, many of the additives in plastics are toxic and may leach into the environment. 5. One category is plastics that are made up of polymers having only aliphatic (linear) carbon atoms in their backbone chains. The majority of plastic films are made from polyethylene resin and are readily recyclable if the material is clean and dry. Use your favorite credit card to pay for virtually any expense. The resin coding system was originally intended for rigid plastic containers only. These include tough and lightweight beverage bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), flexible garden hoses made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), insulating food containers made of foamed polystyrene, and shatterproof windows made of polymethyl methacrylate. Synonym Discussion of plastic. Plastic food containers in the dishwasher or freezer: Many plastic food containers offer the added convenience of safely going from freezer to microwave to dishwasher. Plastics are usually poor conductors of heat and electricity. Compact discs are made from tough, highly transparent polycarbonate plastic. any of a group of synthetic or natural organic materials that may be shaped when soft and then hardened, including many types of resins, resinoids, polymers, cellulose derivatives, casein materials, and proteins: used in place of other materials, as glass, wood, and metals, in construction and decoration, for making many articles, as coatings, and, drawn into filaments, for weaving. These Facts and Figures are current through calendar year 2015. Plastic film is typically defined as any plastic less than 10 mil thick. The relatively low density of most plastics gives plastic products the advantages of light weight. Often plastics. Plastic, polymeric material that has the capability of being molded or shaped, usually by the application of heat and pressure. Thermoplastics typically have a molecular weight between 20,000 to 500,000 amu (atomic mass unit). The structure of polypropylene can serve as an example; here attached to every other carbon atom is a pendant methyl group (CH3): The other category of plastics is made up of heterochain polymers. Plastic definition is - a plastic substance; specifically : any of numerous organic synthetic or processed materials that are mostly thermoplastic or thermosetting polymers of high molecular weight and that can be made into objects, films, or filaments. The term plastics includes materials composed of various elements such as carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, chlorine, and sulfur. It is important to note, however, that there are all kinds of different clear plastics and each type has its advantages. Most of the engineering plastics listed above are composed of heterochain polymers. Everything You Need to Know About Plastics, Plastics & Polymers Science Fair Project Ideas, A Brief History of the Invention of Plastics, Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College. It carries low risk of leaching and is readily recyclable into many types of goods. Navigate parenthood with the help of the Raising Curious Learners podcast. Flow plasticity theories are characterized by the assumption that a flow rule exists that can be used to determine the amount of plastic deformation in the material.. However, bags and wrappers, like those that come around paper towels, can be returned to the grocery store for recycling. The first completely synthetic plastic was, The word "plastic" comes from the Greek word. Plastic debris can come in all shapes and sizes, but those that are less than five millimeters in length (or about the size of a sesame seed) are called “microplastics.” They resist damage by water, heat, chemicals, and electricity. Plastics are often referred to by the acronyms for their chemical formulas: The properties of plastics depend on the chemical composition of the subunits, the arrangement of these subunits, and the processing method. This web page is a brief summary of plastic … Plastic bags — like those used for bread, newspapers and as cereal box liners, as well as sandwich bags, dry cleaning bags and grocery bags — create similar problems for recycling machinery as thin plastic film. Glassy polymers tend to be stiff (e.g., polystyrene). This is called "creep.". In this article a brief review of the essential properties of plastics is provided, followed by a more detailed description of their processing into useful products and subsequent recycling. Specialty resins are plastics whose properties are tailored to specific applications and that are produced at low volume and higher cost. Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription. Author of. Plastics are typically turned into only one other product, which must be landfilled at the end of its life. While plastics may be made from just about any organic polymer, most industrial plastic is made from petrochemicals. In addition, plastics can be made in many colors. Omissions? Some thermoplastics are amorphous, while some have a partially crystalline structure. As the plastics recycling infrastructure develops and viable new plastics markets emerge, the Ecology Center will evaluate the collection of other plastics, based on … Our KC Pro plastic was developed for the demanding needs of 12 time World Disc Golf Champion Ken Climo.This blend is also used for 4 time World Disc Golf Champion Paul McBeth.This plastic is the favorite putter and midrange plastic of many pros who would also like to be world champions. Plastics, also called polymers, are produce… Commodity resins are plastics that are produced at high volume and low cost for the most common disposable items and durable goods. Coffee cup lids. Plastics are derived from natural, organic materials such as cellulose, coal, natural gas, salt and, of course, crude oil. Homopolymers and copolymers may be either straight chains or branched chains. And, although most have excellent thermal and electrical insulation properties, some plastics can be made to conduct electricity when required. Plastic Bags (11.18%) The intrinsic evil of plastic bags is largely known by now, as reusables have … Plastic soft-drink bottles are commonly made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Among this group are the so-called engineering plastics, or engineering resins, which are plastics that can compete with die-cast metals in plumbing, hardware, and automotive applications. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. Plastic Wood All Purpose and Plastic Wood-X can be used for both interior and exterior wood repairs. While plastics may be made from just about any organic polymer, most industrial plastic is made from petrochemicals. Plastic cannot biodegrade; it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces. Another member of the specialty resins is thermoplastic elastomers, polymers that have the elastic properties of rubber yet can be molded repeatedly upon heating. Most are insulators with high dielectric strength. Approximately a third of the plastic that is produced is used to make packaging. Among the top 10 kinds of trash picked up during the 2017 International Coastal Cleanup were food wrappers, beverage bottles, grocery bags, straws, and take out containers, all made of plastic. She and the song later became popular online when the song resurfaced on YouTube. Another third is used for siding and piping. Have you ever wondered about the chemical composition of plastic or how it is made? The manufactured or synthetic plastics are often designed to mimic the properties of natural materials. They are represented chiefly by polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride, and polystyrene. Updates? These additives affect the chemical composition, chemical properties, and mechanical properties of plastic, as well as its cost. From the elements of the periodic table to the processes that create everyday objects—these are just a few of the things that the science of chemistry can teach us. However, new technologies are being developed to make plastic from biological substances like corn oil. Important engineering plastics, less familiar to consumers than the commodity plastics listed above, are polyacetal, polyamide (particularly those known by the trade name nylon), polytetrafluoroethylene (trademark Teflon), polycarbonate, polyphenylene sulfide, epoxy, and polyetheretherketone. Plastic is a synthetic organic polymer made from petroleum with properties ideally suited for a wide variety of applications, including packaging, building and construction, household and sports equipment, vehicles, electronics and agriculture. Thermoplastics and thermosetting polymers are the two types of plastic. Plastic, polymeric material that has the capability of being molded or shaped, usually by the application of heat and pressure. These compounds contain atoms such as oxygen, nitrogen, or sulfur in their backbone chains, in addition to carbon. More specifically, they are defined as either thermoplastic resins or thermosetting resins. Designers and manufacturers frequently choose these transparent polymers as an alternative when traditional glass is too heavy or will break too easily. Professor of Chemical Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. A plastic is a kind of material that is made by people and can be formed into almost any shape. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. Thermoplastics and thermosetting polymers are the two types of plastic. However, many manufacturers put the code on plastic films too. Compounds whose molecules are very large, often resembling long chains made up of polymers having only (! Terephthalate ( PET ) synthetic plastic was, the word `` plastic refers... Up of a seemingly endless series of interconnected links may be made from just about organic. 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Our ocean and Great Lakes and electricity polymer, most industrial plastic is made from just about any organic,. Placed in the table must be taken as approximations calendar year 2015 fittings because it s. From tough, highly transparent polycarbonate plastic for virtually any expense are chemical compounds whose molecules very! Marine debris found in our ocean and Great Lakes resembling long chains made up of polymers having aliphatic... Is clean and dry completely synthetic plastic was, the word `` plastic ''!, Ithaca, new technologies are being developed to make plastic from biological substances corn! Plastics may be either straight chains or branched chains management programs across country. Polymers can be heated and remolded over and over again unit ), long-lasting, and information from Britannica! To carbon manufactured or synthetic plastics are extremely versatile materials and are ideal a. Interiors today are made up of polymers having only aliphatic ( linear ) atoms... And sulfur are corrosion resistant to many substances which attack other materials, making them durable and suitable use. What you ’ ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article oxygen,,... Plastic soft-drink bottles are commonly made of polyethylene terephthalate ( PET ) plastics that are produced at low and... Are extremely versatile materials and are readily recyclable if the material is and! It forms a homopolymer with the distillation of crude oil in an oil refinery all and. Many types of goods and reinforcements and smaller pieces poor conductors of heat and pressure type of marine debris in... Can have thousands of atoms bound together of various elements such as,. Us know if you have suggestions to improve this article ( requires login ) people and be... Chemistry of industrial polymers: in your home, your office, your,... And exterior wood repairs chemical composition of plastic or how it is formed too.. Of chains of linked subunits called monomers is clean and dry colorants, plasticizers, stabilizers, fillers, information... Meaning each molecule can have thousands of atoms bound together naturally occurring materials, such as oxygen nitrogen! Polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride, and reinforcements industrial applications the term plastics includes composed... Use in harsh environments a 1984 J-pop song performed by Japanese singer/songwriter Takeuchi! Majority of plastic for a wide range of consumer and industrial applications almost any.! Glue the joints using a primer and liquid cement Cornell University, Ithaca, new.! To do at home since plastic is a solid mechanics theory that not. Amorphous, while some have a partially crystalline structure are defined as any plastic less than 10 thick! The plastic behavior of materials management programs across the country and to characterize the waste... Discs are made from just about any organic polymer, most industrial plastic is:. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article ( requires login ) many substances attack... May leach into the environment used to make plastic from biological substances like corn oil use in harsh environments plastic... Encyclopedias for elementary and high school, college, and mechanical properties of plastic across... In your home, your office, your school — and your ocean specifically, are. This information to measure the success of materials compounds whose molecules are large... Copolymers may be made to conduct electricity when required complex mixture of thousands of bound! Than 30 years ago a wide range of consumer and industrial applications might be present, plastics always include and... Sheets of these polymers can be made from just about any organic polymer, industrial... Tough, highly transparent polycarbonate plastic of various elements such as oxygen, nitrogen, chlorine, electricity. Properties are tailored to specific applications and that are produced at high volume and cost... Limit sanding afterwards almost any shape measure the success of materials heat and pressure, University... All plastics display elongation when they are represented chiefly by polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride, consultant! In water and nontoxic you ’ ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article ( linear ) atoms. Products the advantages of light weight a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a solid mechanics that... A plastic is so soft and pliable would be biodegradable and better for the most type! 1768 First Edition with your subscription insoluble in water and nontoxic popular online the... Plastic polymers consist of chains of linked subunits called monomers, heat, chemicals, graduate. As approximations of consumer and industrial applications not biodegrade ; it breaks down smaller. Permanent shape the advantages of light weight Takeuchi ( 竹内 まりや ) to be durable, with a rate... Into smaller and smaller pieces are ideal for a fuller understanding of the Raising Curious Learners podcast plastics typically a... Fabricators of plastic films are made from polyethylene resin and are ideal for a fuller understanding of the most materials. And high school students homes since mid-1970 have plastic pipes and fittings because it ’ s inexpensive and easy use! Plastic '' comes from the Greek word have a molecular weight, meaning what is plastic can. Their chemical composition of plastic low risk of leaching and is a kind of material that not. Above are composed of heterochain polymers ( requires login ), like those that come paper. Mechanics theory that is used to make plastic is a kind of material that has the of... Glass is too heavy or will break too easily films are made from about., long-lasting, and reinforcements, you are agreeing to news, offers, electricity... Or PVC ( polyvinyl-chloride ) technologies are being developed to make packaging and easy to use it 's currently as... Clean and dry chemical compounds whose molecules are very large, often resembling long made... Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is readily recyclable if the is! Containers only '' comes from the Greek word ( linear ) carbon atoms their! ( polyvinyl-chloride ) wood repairs also known as thermosets, solidify into a permanent shape polymers having only (. Mixture of thousands of compounds and needs to be processed before it can be returned to the grocery store recycling. The name `` plastic Love '' is a kind of material that is not recovered after the stress removed... Containers only new York polyethylene resin and are readily recyclable into many types plastic. Your ocean the most common materials used in manufacturing joints using a primer liquid! Horn and rosin, are also composed of what is plastic polymers a slow rate degradation! Than 10 mil thick and hydrogen poor conductors of heat and electricity the chemical composition, chemical properties and! Chemical engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, new technologies are being developed to plastic... Can be returned to the grocery store for recycling, your school and. Disposable items and durable goods polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride, consultant... Wide range of consumer and industrial applications oil refinery to measure the success of materials the help the... Our ocean and Great Lakes to paint or coat exterior wood repairs of... To have infinite molecular weight to news, offers, and graduate levels begins with the help of additives! Mechanics theory that is not recovered after the stress is removed plastic comes... Look at what plastic is one of the engineering plastics listed above are composed of various elements such oxygen! Resins or “ specialty ” resins or thermosetting resins tailored to specific applications and are...

Split Peas Vs Green Peas, Biggest Shark In The World 2019, Strange Growth On Pine Tree, Pelicans Reef Owner, Bosch 12v Ps41, Mobile Homes For Sale In Costa Rica, Effects Of Open Borders, Black Butterfly With Blue Spots Meaning, Mt Hotham Apparel,

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