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Plastic Industry


Plastic is commonly known and used as a material in the manufacture of industrial

products. Plastics are typically polymers of high molecular mass, and may contain

other substances to improve performance and to reduce costs. Monomers of Plastic

are either natural or synthetic organic compolunds.

The word plastic originally came from the Greek word î ½ lastikos) meaning

ñ ñ  , and î ½ lastos) meaning 

. It refers to their plasticity

during manufacture, that allows them to be cast, pressed, or extruded into a variety of

shapes²such as plates, cups, cans, boxes, bags and much more.

Plastics are classified by chemical structure, namely the molecular units that make up

the polymer's backbone and side chains. Some important groups of the plastic

chemical structure are the acrylics, polyesters, silicones, polyurethanes, and

halogenated plastics. Plastics are also classified by the chemical process used in their

synthesis, such as condensation, polyaddition, and cross-linking. More over, Plastics

can also be classified by various physical properties, such as density, tensile strength,

glass transition temperature, and resistance to various chemical products.

^ue to low cost, ease of manufacture, versatility, and imperviousness to water of

plastics, plastics are today used in enormous and expanding range of products, from

paper clips to spaceships.

Plastic Chemical Structure

Œsually thermoplastics range from 20,000 to 500,000 in molecular mass, while

thermosets have infinite molecular weight. These chains are made up of many

repeating molecular units, known as 

  , came from ³derived´ from

; each polymer chain will have several thousand repeating units. The vast

majority of plastics are composed of polymers of carbon and hydrogen alone or with

oxygen, nitrogen, chlorine or sulfur in the backbone. The backbone is that part of the

chain on the main "path" linking a large number of repeat units together. To

customize the properties of a plastic, different molecular groups "hang" from the

backbone (usually they are "hung" as part of the monomers before linking monomers

together to form the polymer chain). This fine tuning of the properties of the polymer

by repeating unit's molecular structure has allowed plastics to become such an

indispensable part of twenty first-century world.

Some plastics are partially crystalline and partially amorphous in molecular structure,

giving them both a melting point and one or more glass transitions (temperatures

above which the extent of localized molecular flexibility is substantially increased).

The so-called semi-crystalline plastics include polyethylene, polypropylene, poly

(vinyl chloride), polyamides (nylons), polyesters and some polyurethanes. Many

plastics are completely amorphous, such as polystyrene and its copolymers, poly

(methyl methacrylate), and all thermosets.

Physical and chemical Pro erties of lastic

There are lots of different hysical and chemical ro erties of lastic, Here are
some listed few ro erties:

Physical Pro erties:

·c Transparency
·c ålexibility
·c ülasticity
·c Permeability
·c ater absorption
·c ülectrical Resistance
·c Specific Gravity

Chemical Pro erties:

·c Solubility
·c uhemical Resistance
·c Thermal Stability
·c Reactivity with water
·c ålammability
·c reat of combustion

How lastics are roduced?

In order to know how plastic is made, it¶s important to define plastic itself and as we

mentioned earlier in the chemical structure of plastic that plastic is one form of

polymers that are composed of a long chain of smaller molecules that are known as

monomers. Monomers themselves are made of atoms that are usually extracted from

natural or organic substances, and are generally classified as petrochemicals. All sorts

of monomers can be utilized in the creation of plastic. urude oil and natural gas are

often the source of some of these elements, which include monomers such as styrene,

vinyl chloride, and vinyl acetate.

Polymers are formed either by forming a series of chains or strings of monomers.

Processing the polymers using either one of the two methods results in the formation

of plastic. ith the thermosetting method, liquid monomers are poured into a mold

and allowed to be cooled. The liquefied monomers are permanent in shape, producing

durable goods. ith the thermoplastic approach, the liquid monomers are heated and

slowly molded into shape. After the heating and manipulation into the desired shape,

the product is cooled and allowed to set into a solid. Both the thermoplastic and the

thermosetting approaches are referred to as polymerization.

hile plastic was once considered as a product that is cheap in both price and quality,

modern plastics are utilized for a number of purposes. Many other forms of plastic

goods contain properties that are both heat and cold resistant. In our today¶s life there

are plastics that can be used in both conventional ovens as well as in a microwave.

Plastic is used to form lightweight patio furniture, durable upholstery, protective

coatings on cookware, water piping for the home and other buildings, and a wide

range of other products.

Use of Plastic

Plastic is considered to be the most common material used in producing products, If

you looked around you will discover that plastic is involved everywhere even now

days plastic is used in electronic devices and many other sophisticated products.






]es Indeed, Plastic can cause health problems in different ways for example it may

cause cancer when certain types of food ³^iary products mostly´ are covered with

plastic wrap and heated in a microwave oven. Moreover, Plastic also causes toxicity

when swallowed.

^ue to the insolubility of plastic in water and relative chemical inertness, pure plastics

generally have low percentage of toxicity in their finished state, and will pass

peacefully through the digestive system with no effects (other than mechanical

damage or obstruction). rowever, plastics often contain a variety of toxic additives.

åor example, plasticizers like adipates and phthalates are often added to brittle

plastics like polyvinyl chloride (PVu) to make them pliable enough for use in food

packaging, children's toys and tethers, tubing, shower curtains and other items. Traces

of these chemicals can leach out of the plastic when it comes into contact with food.

Out of these concerns, the üuropean Œnion has banned the use of ^ürP (di-2-

ethylhexyl phthalate), the most widely used plasticizer in PVu. Some chemical

compounds leaching from polystyrene food containers have been found to interfere

with hormone functions and they are suspected human carcinogens.

Moreover, while the finished plastic might be non-toxic, the monomers used in its

manufacture may be toxic; and small amounts of those chemical may remain trapped

in the product. The orld realth Organization's International Agency for Research

on uancer (IARu) has recognized the chemical used to make the PVu, vinyl chloride,

known as a human carcinogen. Some polymers may also breakdown into monomers

or other toxic substances when heated.

The primary building block of polycarbonates, bisphenol A (BPA), is an estrogen-like

endocrine disruptor that may leach into food.A research had been done in

ünvironmental realth Perspectives finds that BPA leached from the lining of tin cans,

dental sealants and polycarbonate bottles can increase body weight of lab animals

offspring.A more recent animal study suggests that even a low-level exposure to BPA

results in insulin resistance, which may possibly lead to inflammation and heart


At January 2010, The Los Angeles Times newspaper reports that the Œnited States

å^A is spending $30 million to investigate suspicious indications of BPA being

linked to cancer.

Bis(2-ethylhexyl) adipate, present in plastic wrap based on PVu, is also of concern, as

are the volatile organic compounds present in new car smell.

The üuropean Œnion had permanently banned the use of phthalates in toys. In 2009,

the Œnited States government also banned certain types of phthalates commonly used

in plsstic.

Plastic Environmental Effects

hen you do the shopping and carry home the things in a cute, fancy plastic carry-

bag, think that you are actually contributing your share to a deadly pollution whose

ill-effects are irreversible and capable of reaching out to numerous generations to


Plastic is known as one of the major toxic pollutants of our time. It¶s a non-

biodegradable substance and also composed of toxic chemicals, lastic ollutes

earth, air and water. There is no way whatsoever you can safely dispose of plastic

waste. Plastic causes serious damage to environment both during its production and

disposal and the only way to reduce the hazards of plastic is to reduce the use of

plastic and thereby force a reduction in its production. Plastic plays the villain right

from the stage of its production. The major chemicals that go into the making of

plastic are highly toxic and pose serious threat to living beings of all species on earth.

Some of the constituents of plastic such as benzene and vinyl chloride are known to

cause cancer, while many others are gases and liquid hydrocarbons that vitiate earth

and air. Plastic resins themselves are flammable and have contributed considerably to

several accidents worldwide. The noxious substances emitted during the production of

plastic are synthetic chemicals like ethylene oxide, benzene and xylenes. Besides

hitting hard the eco-system, which is already fragile, these chemicals can cause an

array of maladies ranging from birth defects to cancer, damage the nervous

system and the immune system and also adversely affect the blood and the

kidneys. And, many of these toxic substance are emitted during recycling of

lastic, too. Like in the case of all other chemical substances, disposalof plastic is a

myth. Once lastic is roduced, the harm is done once and for all. Plastic defies any

kind of attempt at disposal be it through recycling, burning, or landfilling. When you

recycle a hazard, you create a hazard. Recycling of a toxic waste merely puts the

hazardous material back into the marketplace and, eventually, into the environment

thereby making no reduction in toxic use. Since plastic does not undergo bacterial

decomposition, land filling using plastic would mean preserving the poison forever.

But can lastic be burned and thus its hazard got rid of? No way. When

burned, lastic releases ahost of oisonous chemicals into the air, including

dioxin, the most toxic substance known to science. Apart from these perils,

recycling of plastic is very uneconomical, dirty and labour-intensive as has been

reveled by a study conducted by the Public Interest Research Group, based in ^elhi,

India. Recycling of lastic is associated with skin and res iratory roblems,

resulting from ex osure to and inhalation of toxic fumes, es ecially

hydrocarbons and residues released during the rocess. What is worse, the

recycled lastic degrades in quality and necessitates the roduction of more new

lastic to make the original roduct.Plastic wastes clog the drains and thus hit

especially urban sewage systems. The lastic wastes being dum ed into rivers,

streams and seas contaminate the water, soil, marine life and also the very air we

breathe. uhoked drains provide excellent breeding grounds for disease-causing

mosquitoes besides causing flooding during the monsoons. Any attempt to get rid

ofplastic through landfills is also dangerous. Apart form toxic seepage from the

landfill, resulting in the contamination of precious water sources, the waste mass

impedes the flow of ground water as well and obstructs the movement of roots

thereby badly affecting the soils biological balance and organic processes. Landfills

are also prone to leaks. The wastes especially cadmium and lead in the wastes

invariably mix with rain water, then seep through the ground and drain into nearby

streams and lakes and other water bodies. Thus the water we use gets poisoned. The

only way out of the deadly and lasting danger of plastic is to cut down the use of

plastic, if not avoid it altogether. Say no to lastic whenever and wherever you


Effects Of Plastic In Water

Marine debris is mainly discarded human rubbish which floats on, or is suspended in

the ocean. 8% of marine debris is plastic - a component that has been rapidly

accumulating since the end of orld ar II. The mass of plastic in the oceans may be

as high as one hundred million metric tons.

^iscarded plastic bags, six pack rings and other forms of plastic waste, which finish

up in the ocean present dangers to wildlife and fisheries. Aquatic life can be

threatened through entanglement, suffocation, and ingestion. åishing nets, usually

made of plastic, can be left or lost in the ocean by fishermen. Known as ghost nets,

these entangle fish, dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, dugongs, crocodiles, seabirds, crabs,

and other creatures, restricting movement, causing starvation, laceration and infection,

and, in those that need to return to the surface to breathe, suffocation.

Many animals that actually live in the sea consume flotsam by mistake, as it often

looks similar to their natural prey.Plastic debris, when bulky or tangled, is difficult to

pass, and may become permanently lodged in the digestive tracts of these animals,

blocking the passage of food and causing death through starvation or infection.

Plastics accumulate because they don't biodegrade in the way many other substances

do. They will photo degrade on exposure to the sun, but they do so properly only

under dry conditions, and water inhibits this process.In marine environments, photo

degraded plastic disintegrates into ever smaller pieces while remaining polymers,

even down to the molecular level. hen floating plastic particles photodegrade down

to zooplankton sizes, jellyfish attempt to consume them, and in this way the plastic

enters the ocean food chain. Many of these long-lasting pieces end up in the stomachs

of marine birds and animals,including sea turtles, and black-footed albatross.

Plastic debris tends to accumulate at the centre of ocean gyres. In particular, the Great

Pacific Garbage Patch has a very high level of plastic particulate suspended in the

upper water column. In samples taken in 1999, the mass of plastic exceeded that of

zooplankton (the dominant animal life in the area) by a factor of six.Midway Atoll, in

common with all the rawaiian Islands, receives substantial amounts of debris from

the garbage patch. Ninety percent plastic, this debris accumulates on the beaches of

Midway where it becomes a hazard to the bird population of the island. Midway Atoll

is home to two-thirds (1.5 million) of the global population of Laysan

Albatross.Nearly all of these albatross have plastic in their digestive systemand one-

third of their chicks die.

Toxic additives used in the manufacture of plastic materials can leach out into their

surroundings when exposed to water. aterborne hydrophobic pollutants collect and

magnify on the surface of plastic debris,thus making plastic far more deadly in the

ocean than it would be on land. rydrophobic contaminants are also known to

bioaccumulation in fatty tissues, biomagnifying up the food chain and putting

pressure on apex predators. Some plastic additives are known to disrupt the endocrine

system when consumed, others can suppress the immune system or decrease

reproductive rates. åloating debris can also absorb persistent organic pollutants from

seawater, including PuBs, ^^T and PArs.Aside from toxic effects,when ingested

some of these are mistaken by the animal brain for estradiol, causing hormone

disruption in the affected wildlife


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