What is plastic: Origin of plastic and applications in life

Plastic, a versatile polymer material, plays an undeniable role in everyday life. From plastic bags to plastic bottles and toys, plastic has become an indispensable part of modern life. Here is a more detailed look at the applications of plastics in different industries and common plastic classifications.

What is plastic?

What is plastic?

Concept of plastic

Plastic is a type of polymer material, made up of combining monomer molecules to create a long and flexible structure. These monomers can be produced from petrochemical sources or from natural sources such as plants or wood. This polymerizes process produces a variety of plastics with different physical and chemical properties.

Properties of plastic

  • Flexible: Plastic can be easily deformed into many different shapes.
  • Durable: Plastic is resistant to external agents such as water, acids, bases,…
  • Insulating properties: Plastic does not conduct electricity, so it is used to make insulating materials.
  • Heat Insulation: Plastic conducts heat poorly, so it is used to make heat-insulating materials.

The components that make up plastic

Polymer: Is the main component of plastic, accounting for 50% to 95%. Polymers are giant molecules made up of thousands to millions of monomers linked together by covalent bonds.

Additives are added to improve the properties of the plastic, for example:

  • Colorant: Creates color for plastic.
  • Stabilizer: Helps plastic become more durable against heat, light,…
  • Lubricant: Helps plastic flow easily during machining.
  • Filler: Helps reduce cost and increase plastic hardness.
The components that make up plastic

The components that make up plastic

Application of plastic in life

Plastic is the most popular and diverse material in modern life. Plastic is widely used in many different industries, from industrial production to daily life.

Industry

  • Machinery manufacturing: Plastic is used to make machinery and equipment parts such as machine casings, gears, pipes, etc. Plastic helps reduce machine weight, increase durability and corrosion resistance.
  • Construction industry: Plastic is used to make construction materials such as water pipes, windows, roofs, etc. Plastic helps reduce construction costs, increase durability and water resistance.
  • Automotive industry: Plastic is used to make car parts such as bumpers, dashboards, interiors, etc. Plastic helps reduce car weight, save fuel and increase safety.
  • Electronics industry: Plastic is used to make electronic machine casings, microchips, wires, etc. Plastic helps insulate and protect electronic devices from damage.
  • Agriculture: Sunshade nets, agricultural mulch films,…
  • Textile industry: Synthetic fibers, garment fabrics,…
  • Medical: Manufacturing artificial body parts such as hip joints, heart valves,…

Daily life

  • Kitchen utensils: Plastic is used to make kitchen utensils such as cups, plates, glasses, pots, food containers, etc. Plastic makes kitchen utensils light, durable and easy to clean.
  • Packaging: Plastic is used to make packaging for food products, beverages, cosmetics, etc. Plastic helps preserve products better, increase shelf life and minimize waste.
  • Toys: Plastic is used to make toys for children such as cars, dolls, models, etc. Plastic makes toys safe, durable, beautiful and comes in many eye-catching colors.
  • Medical tools: Plastic is used to make medical tools such as syringes, needles, surgical tools, etc. Plastic helps make medical tools safe, sterilized and cheap.
Application of plastic in life

Application of plastic in life

Plastic classification

Plastics are classified based on their Resin Identification Code (RIC), usually marked on the surface of the plastic product. Below are some common plastic types and their RIC codes:

  • PET (Polyethylene terephthalate): This type of plastic is often used for drink bottles, plastic bags and food containers. RIC code is 1.
  • HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene): Often used for drinking water bottles, milk bottles, water pipes and children’s toys. RIC code is 2.
  • PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride): Used for water pipes, sewer pipes, soundproofing panels and construction materials. RIC code is 3.
  • PP (Polypropylene): Often used for products such as bottle caps, food containers and household appliances. RIC code is 5.

Impact of plastic

Positive impact

  • Plastic is cheap, easy to produce, and highly durable.
  • Plastic contributes to improving quality of life.

Negative impact

  • Plastic is difficult to decompose, causing environmental pollution:
  • Plastic waste exists in the environment for hundreds of years, polluting land, water and air.
  • Plastic decomposes into microplastics, entering human and animal bodies, causing harm to health.

Solution

  • Limit the use of single-use plastic items.
  • Reuse and recycle plastic.
  • Use substitute products for plastic: Paper, glass, bamboo,…

Conclude

Plastic is a material with many advantages and wide applications, they are an indispensable part in many industries. However, excessive use of plastic causes many negative impacts on the environment and health. Therefore, we need to use plastic reasonably, limit plastic waste and find alternative solutions.

Let’s join hands to protect the environment by using plastic sensibly!

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