Plastics can be made in a variety of ways from a variety of materials; shale gas, oil, plants even chicken feathers can all be used to make plastic.
However oil derived plastics are the most common.
Plastics are created from single units combined in a variety of ways. This process is called polymerisation. Different combinations result in different products and there are hundreds of them.
Plastics can be used to make everything from varnish to stockings, bottles to car parts by way of varnish, crisp packets and computers.
Most plastics do not biodegrade and last for centuries possibly for ever.
But then there are other plastics that are truly compostable with a lifespan of months and dissolve in the dishwasher.

Confused? Find out more here  What is plastic -an introduction.
Don’t know your P.E.T.s from your polymers?  Check out this collection of definitions essential for understanding plastic!

A List Of Plastics

Click on the name to find out more

Biaxially Oriented Polypropylene -BOPP when polypropylene  is biaxially oriented, it becomes Biaxially Oriented Polypropylene -BOPP the crisp crystal clear stuff used for greeting cards, the plastic wrapping round boxes of tea etc.  It is easy to coat, print and laminate to give the required appearance and properties for use as a packaging material.
Bioplastics are made from plants rather than oil.
Bio- degradable /Degradable Plastic has  additives to make it bio-degrade. NOT to be confused with compostable plastic!

Cellophane is one of the first plastics. Proper cellophane is plant derived and biodegradable. However the term is often applied to a petroleum derived product.
Compostable Plastic  has been certified compostable and can naturally biodegrade such as PLA plastic.
Degradable plastics – with added chemicals to make them break down more quickly.
Ethane derived plastics – ethane comes from plants, oil coal and gas
Halogenated Plastics include

    • Chlorine based plastics:
    • Chlorinated polyethylene (CPE)
    • Chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC)
    • Chlorosulfonated polyethylene (CSPE)
    • Polychloroprene (CR or chloroprene rubber, marketed under the brand name of Neoprene)
    • PVC
    • Fluorine based plastics:
    • Fluorinated ethylene propylene (FEP)

These are known as the poison plastics are carcinogens are produced when they are made and ageing when they are disposed of.

Film – different plastics can be bonded together to create all manners of film. Read more HERE

HDPE- High-density polyethylene plastic code 2  Used to carrier bags, toys, bottle s and a whole load of other stuff.  

LDPE- Low density polyethylene plastic code 4  used to make everything from soft clear bags to parts that need to be weldable and machinable

Nylon is often associated with the fabric of the same name but can be used to make all manner of things from fibre to  moulded objects.

Polyethylene (polythene) derived from ethane.

      • High-density polyethylene (HDPE)
      • LDPE- Low density polyethylene plastic code 4
      • Cross-linked polyethylene (PEX or XLPE)
      • Medium-density polyethylene (MDPE)
      • Linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE)
      • Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) 
      • Very-low-density polyethylene (VLDPE)

PLA a plastic derived from poly lactic acid that is certified a compostable plastic. Fact Sheet or all posts

Polyethylene terephthalat PET or PETE plastic code 1 most often used for making fibers and bottles

Polyurethanes  can be used to make almost anything from cushions to varnish. Used to make  flexible foam in upholstered furniture and rigid foam such as shoe soles. It also comes in a fluid form in  varnishes, adhesives and  sealants.

Polypropylene PP plastic code 5  is used to make ropes, thermal underwear, carpets, plastic parts and reusable containers of various types. Used in the automobile and construction industries, some car battery casings, oil funnels, and plastic drinking straws, laboratory equipment, loudspeakers, automotive components, and polymer banknotes.

Polystyrene – PS  plastic code 6 disposable (ha!) products to food packaging like fast food clamshells, meat trays, protective packaging  and loose fill peanuts. Difficult to recycle.

Polytetrafluoroethylene  (PTFE) is a synthetic non stick coating for cookware to armoured bullets. It is an efficient lubricant and can kill budgies. Check it out.

Polyvinyl chloride PVC  plastic code 3  PVC is known as the “poison plastic” because of the lethal chemicals produced during its manufacture and possibly again when disposed of.

 Silicon and silicone rubber– Plastic? Rubber? Just plain weird? Used for everything  from ice-cube trays to adult toys to cake tins it certainly gets around. So what is silicone??

The main polymers in use are

      • polyethylene,
      • polypropylene,
      • polyvinyl chloride,
      • polyethylene terephthalate,
      • polystyrene,
      • polycarbonate,
      • polyeurothene
      • poly(methyl methacrylate) (Plexiglas).

According to Wikkipedia they account for ” nearly 98% of all polymers”. Wikkipeida

Most of the plastic products we use are derived from these polymers with alternative plastics accounting for the rest.

Most of the base components for these polymers are derived from oil.

Why Do Some Plastics Have Numbers?

Plastic codes are the number you find on some plastics to identify the polymers used. There are many more plastics than numbers and new plastics are being made all the time. Find out more here

 Brand Names


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