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.
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 or maybe 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)
- 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.
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.
- 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)
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.
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
- polyvinyl chloride,
- polyethylene terephthalate,
- 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
- Bakelite, i.e. phenol-formaldehyde resin
- Kevlar, Twaron, i.e. para-aramid
- Kynar, i.e. PVDF
- Mylar, i.e. polyethylene terephthalate film
- Neoprene i.e. Polychloroprene
- Nylon, i.e. polyamide 6,6
- Orlon, i.e. polyacrylonitrile
- Rilsan, i.e. polyamide 11 & 12
- Technora, i.e. copolyamid
- Teflon, i.e. PTFE
- Ultem, i.e. polyimide
- Vectran, i.e. aromatic polyamide
- Viton, i.e. poly-tetrafluoroethylene
- Zylon, i.e. poly-p-phenylene-2,6-benzobisoxazole (PBO)